Emergence in physics

Philosophy Compass 4 (5):846-858 (2009)
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Abstract

This paper begins by tracing interest in emergence in physics to the work of condensed matter physicist Philip Anderson. It provides a selective introduction to contemporary philosophical approaches to emergence. It surveys two exciting areas of current work that give good reason to re-evaluate our views about emergence in physics. One area focuses on physical systems wherein fundamental theories appear to break down. The other area is the quantum-to-classical transition, where some have claimed that a complete explanation of the behaviors and features of the objects of classical physics entirely in quantum terms is now within our grasp. We suggest that the most useful way to approach the emergent/non-emergent distinction is in epistemic terms, and more specifically that the failure of reductive explanation is constitutive of emergence in physics.

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Author Profiles

Michal Arciszewski
University of Guelph
Andrew Wayne
University of Guelph

Citations of this work

Emergence and singular limits.Andrew Wayne - 2012 - Synthese 184 (3):341-356.
Spontaneous symmetry breaking in quantum systems: Emergence or reduction?Nicolaas P. Landsman - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (4):379-394.

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