A Physicalistic Account of Emergentism

Axiomathes 25 (4):479-494 (2015)
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Jaegwon Kim’s argument against non-reductive physicalism is well known. Many philosophers take Kim’s argument to also apply to emergentism. But this does not necessarily follow. In this paper, I will first briefly show why Kim’s argument against non-reductive physicalism need not apply to emergentism. Next, I will present a physicalistic account of emergentism offered by Jason Megill in his paper “A Defense of Emergence.” This will be followed by an examination of some of the limitations of Megill’s account, in particular, his failure to adequately account for the causal powers of higher level physical properties independent of realization. Finally, I will offer a suggestion on how Megill might avoid the difficulties raised by appealing to the concept of wide realization espoused by Robert Wilson in his paper “Two Views of Realization.” The overarching theme of the paper centers on the idea that the realization requirement is where the action is, in terms of making emergentism compatible with physicalism, and is capable of being tinkered with by the emergentist and physicalist alike



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Nicholas Schroeder
Loyola University, New Orleans

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References found in this work

Physicalism, or Something Near Enough.Jaegwon Kim - 2005 - Princeton University Press.
Physicalism.Daniel Stoljar - 2010 - New York: Routledge.
Is there a fundamental level?Jonathan Schaffer - 2003 - Noûs 37 (3):498–517.
Making sense of emergence.Jaegwon Kim - 1999 - Philosophical Studies 95 (1-2):3-36.
Physicalism.Daniel Stoljar - 2015 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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