Demystifying Emergence

Abstract

Are the special sciences autonomous from physics? Those who say they are need to explain how dependent special science properties could feature in irreducible causal explanations, but that’s no easy task. The demands of a broadly physicalist worldview require that such properties are not only dependent on the physical, but also physically realized. Realized properties are derivative, so it’s natural to suppose that they have derivative causal powers. Correspondingly, philosophical orthodoxy has it that if we want special science properties to bestow genuinely new causal powers, we must reject physical realization and embrace a form of emergentism, in which such properties arise from the physical by mysterious brute determination. In this paper, I argue that contrary to this orthodoxy, there are physically realized properties that bestow new causal powers in relation to their realizers. The key to my proposal is to reject causal-functional accounts of realization and embrace a broader account that allows for the realization of shapes and patterns. Unlike functional properties, such properties are defined by qualitative, non-causal specifications, so realizing them does not consist in bestowing causal powers. This, I argue, allows for causal novelty of the strongest kind. I argue that the molecular geometry of H2O—a qualitative, multiply realizable property—plays an irreducible role in explaining its dipole moment, and thereby bestows novel powers. On my proposal, special science properties can have the kind of causal novelty traditionally associated with strong emergence, without any of the mystery.

Analytics

Added to PP
2016-11-15

Downloads
700 (#11,469)

6 months
51 (#15,777)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

References found in this work

A World of States of Affairs.D. M. Armstrong - 1997 - Cambridge University Press.
Guide to Ground.Kit Fine - 2012 - In Fabrice Correia & Benjamin Schnieder (eds.), Metaphysical Grounding. Cambridge University Press. pp. 37--80.
No Work for a Theory of Grounding.Jessica M. Wilson - 2014 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (5-6):535-579.

View all 64 references / Add more references

Similar books and articles

Mental Causation: Realization and Reduction.Chang-Seong Hong - 2000 - Dissertation, Brown University
The Causal Autonomy of the Special Sciences.Peter Menzies & Christian List - 2010 - In Cynthia Mcdonald & Graham Mcdonald (eds.), Emergence in Mind. Oxford University Press. pp. 108-129.
Taking Realization Seriously: No Cure for Epiphobia. [REVIEW]Sven Walter - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 151 (2):207 - 226.
Emergence, Supervenience, and Realization.Rex Welshon - 2002 - Philosophical Studies 108 (1-2):39-51.
Realization and Causal Powers.Umut Baysan - 2014 - Dissertation, University of Glasgow
An Argument for Power Inheritance.Umut Baysan - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly (263):pqv126.
On Two Arguments for Subset Inheritance.Kevin Morris - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 163 (1):197-211.
Realization Relations in Metaphysics.Umut Baysan - 2015 - Minds and Machines (3):1-14.
Properties, Powers, and the Subset Account of Realization.Paul Audi - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (3):654-674.
Shoemaker's Analysis of Realization: A Review.David Pineda & Agustín Vicente - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (1):97-120.
Emergence and Causal Powers.Graham Macdonald - 2007 - Erkenntnis 67 (2):239 - 253.
Emergence, Downwards Causation and the Completeness of Physics.David Yates - 2009 - Philosophical Quarterly 59 (234):110-131.