In Sophie Gibb, Robin Hendry & Tom Lancaster (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Emergence. Oxford: Routledge. pp. 157-176 (2019)

Jessica Wilson
University of Missouri, St. Louis
I discuss certain representative accounts of metaphysical emergence falling into three broad categories, assessing their prospects for satisfying certain criteria; the ensuing dialectic has a bit of the Goldilocks fable about it. At one end of the spectrum are what I call ‘scientistic’ accounts, which characterize metaphysical emergence by appeal to one or another specific feature commonly registered in scientific descriptions of seeming cases of emergence; such accounts, I argue, typically fail to provide a clear basis for ensuring incompatibility with ontological reduction, and thus fail to guarantee satisfaction of the criterion of appropriate contrast (§2). At the other end of the spectrum are what I call ‘abstractionist’ accounts, which characterize emergence in terms floating free of scientific notions; such accounts, I’ll argue, typically fail to guarantee satisfaction of the criterion of illuminating contrast (§3). I’ll then look at several accounts of metaphysical emergence that are what I call ‘substantive’, in appealing to familiar relations or posits which are properly metaphysical, while being intelligibly connected to scientific relations and posits. As we’ll see, the resources of such accounts are up to the tasks of blocking ontological reduction and of enabling investigations into metaphysical emergence to proceed in an illuminating way (§4). I close with some methodological morals (§5)
Keywords emergence  metaphysical emergence  reduction  complex systems  realization  Strong emergence  Weak emergence  Grounding
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 63,323
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

Metaphysical Dependence: Grounding and Reduction.Gideon Rosen - 2010 - In Bob Hale & Aviv Hoffmann (eds.), Modality: Metaphysics, Logic, and Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 109-36.
No Work for a Theory of Grounding.Jessica M. Wilson - 2014 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (5-6):535-579.
Guide to Ground.Kit Fine - 2012 - In Fabrice Correia & Benjamin Schnieder (eds.), Metaphysical Grounding. Cambridge University Press. pp. 37--80.
On What Grounds What.Jonathan Schaffer - 2009 - In David Manley, David J. Chalmers & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press. pp. 347-383.

View all 31 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Strengthening Weak Emergence.Nora Berenstain - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-18.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Metaphysical Emergence: Weak and Strong.Jessica Wilson - 2015 - In Tomasz Bigaj & Christian Wuthrich (eds.), Metaphysics in Contemporary Physics. Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities. pp. 251-306.
Collapsing Emergence.Elanor Taylor - 2015 - Philosophical Quarterly 65 (261):732-753.
Nonlinearity and Metaphysical Emergence.Jessica M. Wilson - 2013 - In Stephen Mumford & Matthew Tugby (eds.), Metaphysics and Science.
Flat Emergence.Olivier Sartenaer - 2018 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (S1):225-250.
Computational and Conceptual Emergence.Paul Humphreys - 2008 - Philosophy of Science 75 (5):584-594.
Downward Causation and the Autonomy of Weak Emergence.Mark Bedau - 2002 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 6 (1):5-50.
Emergent Expertise?Patrick McGivern - 2014 - Educational Philosophy and Theory 46 (6):1-17.
Synchronic and Diachronic Emergence.Paul Humphreys - 2008 - Minds and Machines 18 (4):431-442.
Towards a Theory of Emergence for the Physical Sciences.Sebastian Haro - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9 (3):1-52.
Towards a theory of emergence for the physical sciences.Sebastian De Haro - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9 (3):1-52.


Added to PP index

Total views
52 ( #204,683 of 2,448,721 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #301,447 of 2,448,721 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes