Jon Lawhead
University of Southern California
Contemporary complexity theory has been instrumental in providing novel rigorous definitions for some classic philosophical concepts, including emergence. In an attempt to provide an account of emergence that is consistent with complexity and dynamical systems theory, several authors have turned to the notion of constraints on state transitions. Drawing on complexity theory directly, this paper builds on those accounts, further developing the constraint-based interpretation of emergence and arguing that such accounts recover many of the features of more traditional accounts. We show that the constraint-based account of emergence also leads naturally into a meaningful definition of self-organization, another concept that has received increasing attention recently. Along the way, we distinguish between order and organization, two concepts which are frequently conflated. Finally, we consider possibilities for future research in the philosophy of complex systems, as well as applications of the distinctions made in this paper.
Keywords Complexity  Emergence  Self-organization  Spontaneous order  Philosophy of science  Reduction
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Real Patterns.Daniel C. Dennett - 1991 - Journal of Philosophy 88 (1):27-51.

View all 24 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Reemergence of 'Emergence'.Bryon Cunningham - 2001 - Philosophy of Science 68 (3):S63-S75.
On the Emergence of Living Systems.Bruce H. Weber - 2009 - Biosemiotics 2 (3):343-359.
Emergence in Physics.Patrick McGivern & Alexander Rueger - 2010 - In Antonella Corradini & Timothy O'Connor (eds.), Emergence in Science and Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 213-232.
Evolution, Emergence, and Learning in Complex Systems.Peter M. Allen & Mark Strathern - 2003 - Emergence: Complexity and Organization 5 (4):8-33.
Complexity, Self-Organization and Selection.Robert C. Richardson - 2001 - Biology and Philosophy 16 (5):653-682.
What is Responsible for the Emergence of Order and Pattern in Psychological Systems?Jeffrey B. Wagman - 2010 - Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 30 (1):32-50.
The Emergence of Campus Mediation Systems: History in the Making.W. Warters - 2001 - Emergence: Complexity and Organization 2 (1).
Complex Dynamical Systems and the Problems of Identity.Alicia Juarrero - 2002 - Emergence: Complexity and Organization 4 (1):94-104.


Added to PP index

Total views
341 ( #30,950 of 2,519,696 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
26 ( #33,799 of 2,519,696 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes