Bhaskar on Open and Closed Systems

South African Journal of Philosophy 19 (3):188-209 (2000)
Bhaskar's articulation of his ‘transcendental realism' includes an argument for a form of causal emergence which would mean the rejection of physicalism, by means of rejecting the causal closure of the physical. His argument is based on an analysis of the conditions for closure, where closed systems manifest regular or Humean relations between events. Bhaskar argues that the project of seeking closure entails commitment to a strong (and implausible) reductionism, which in turn entails the impossibility of science itself, and concludes that we should endorse causal emergence. I argue that Bhaskar's case grossly overreaches itself, and that he fails to establish the emergentist conclusions which he asserts. Consequently his programme poses no significant threat to physicalism. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.19(3) 2000: 188-209
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DOI 10.4314/sajpem.v19i3.31315
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