Bhaskar and Bunge on Social Emergence

Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 39 (3):300-322 (2009)
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This article discusses the theories of social emergence developed by Roy Bhaskar and Mario Bunge. Bhaskar's concept of emergent causal power is shown to be ambiguous, and some of the difficulties of his depth-relational concept of social emergence are examined. It is argued that Bunge's systemic concept of emergent property is not only different, but also clearer and more consistent than Bhaskar's concept of emergent causal power. Despite its clarity and consistency, Bunge's definition of the concept of emergent property is shown to be too broad and analytically imprecise for the purposes of an emergentist social ontology. It is argued that Bunge's systemic account of social emergence can be developed further by using William Wimsatt's gradual approach to emergent phenomena and his four conditions of aggregativity of a systemic property. It is shown that these conditions provide useful conceptual tools for clarifying and investigating different kinds of mechanisms of social emergence and developing stronger varieties of the concept of emergent social property than that indicated in Bunge's definition of this concept



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Tuukka Kaidesoja
University of Helsinki

Citations of this work

The Ontic Account of Scientific Explanation.Carl F. Craver - 2014 - In Marie I. Kaiser, Oliver R. Scholz, Daniel Plenge & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Explanation in the Special Sciences: The Case of Biology and History. Springer Verlag. pp. 27-52.
Developing Social Theory Using Critical Realism.Dave Elder-Vass - 2015 - Journal of Critical Realism 14 (1):80-92.
Critical Realism and the Process Account of Emergence.Stephen Pratten - 2013 - Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 43 (3):251-279.

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