Aggregativity: Reductive heuristics for finding emergence

Philosophy of Science 64 (4):372-84 (1997)
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Most philosophical accounts of emergence are incompatible with reduction. Most scientists regard a system property as emergent relative to properties of the system's parts if it depends upon their mode of organization--a view consistent with reduction. Emergence can be analyzed as a failure of aggregativity--a state in which "the whole is nothing more than the sum of its parts." Aggregativity requires four conditions, giving tools for analyzing modes of organization. Differently met for different decompositions of the system, and in different degrees, these conditions provide powerful evaluation criteria for choosing decompositions, and heuristics for detecting biases of vulgar reductionisms. This analysis of emergence is compatible with reduction



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William C. Wimsatt
University of Minnesota

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Metaphysical emergence: Weak and Strong.Jessica Wilson - 2015 - In Tomasz Bigaj & Christian Wu╠łthrich (eds.), Metaphysics in Contemporary Physics. Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities. pp. 251-306.
When mechanistic models explain.Carl F. Craver - 2006 - Synthese 153 (3):355-376.
Role functions, mechanisms, and hierarchy.Carl F. Craver - 2001 - Philosophy of Science 68 (1):53-74.

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References found in this work

The ontology of complex systems: levels of organization, perspectives, and causal thickets.William C. Wimsatt - 1994 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Supplementary Volume 20:207-274.

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