The concept of emergence has seen a significant resurgence in philosophy and the sciences, yet debates regarding emergentist and reductionist visions of the natural world continue to be hampered by imprecision or ambiguity. Emergent phenomena are said to arise out of and be sustained by more basic phenomena, while at the same time exerting a "top-down" control upon those very sustaining processes. To some critics, this has the air of magic, as it seems to suggest a kind of circular causality. (...) Other critics deem the concept of emergence to be objectionably anti-naturalistic. Objections such as these have led many thinkers to construe emergent phenomena instead as coarse-grained patterns in the world that, while calling for distinctive concepts, do not "disrupt" the ordinary dynamics of the finer-grained (more fundamental) levels. Yet, reconciling emergence with a (presumed) pervasive causal continuity at the fundamental level can seem to deflate emergence of its initially profound significance. This basic problematic is mirrored by similar controversy over how best to characterize the opposite systematizing impulse, most commonly given an equally evocative but vague term, "reductionism." The original essays in this volume help to clarify the alternatives: inadequacies in some older formulations and arguments are exposed and new lines of argument on behalf the two visions are advanced. (shrink)
In this essay I defend a kind of nonnaturalist normative supervenience, grounded in the essences of things. Essentialist theories, in fact, give us the tools to treat the nexus of normative supervenience as a nexus of metaphysical necessity, holding between the normative and the natural. In this context, essentialist grounding provides an explanation of normative supervenience that allows us to keep together both supervenience and nonnaturalism. Moreover, to achieve this significant result, I do not make use of hybrid properties, which (...) are both normative and natural. Rather, I endeavour to show that the notion of hybrid property is based on an erroneous notion of grounding. (shrink)
Philosophers and scientists have recently been showing renewed interest in dualistic conceptions of the human mind, owing to growing acknowledgment of the failings of materialism and reductionism in contemporary philosophical and scientific thought. This book presents a state-of-the-art overview of current developments in this exciting new area of interdisciplinary collaboration, and will be indispensable reading for all researchers and students in this field.
This paper examines the role played by the concept of human nature in ethical theory. The focus is on the epistemological problems that arise from application of this notion to the foundation of ethics. From this viewpoint, two theories, the neoscholastic and the neoclassical ones, are expounded, analyzed and compared. The aim is to highlight their opposite ways of relating the "ought-to-be" (of norms) to the "is" (of human nature). The conclusion is drawn that an adequate solution of the dispute (...) depends on a correct interpretation of Hume's law. Reflection is conducted in the last section on the implications of metaethical discourse on human nature for applied ethics. (shrink)
In recent years numerous attempts have been made by analytic philosophers to _naturalize _various different domains of philosophical inquiry. All of these attempts have had the common goal of rendering these areas of philosophy amenable to empirical methods, with the intention of securing for them the supposedly objective status and broad intellectual appeal currently associated with such approaches. This volume brings together internationally recognised analytic philosophers, including Alvin Plantinga, Peter van Inwagen and Robert Audi, to question the project of naturalism. (...) The articles investigate what it means to _naturalize_ a domain of philosophical inquiry and look at how this applies to the various sub-disciplines of philosophy including epistemology, metaphysics and the philosophy of the mind. The issue of whether naturalism is desirable is raised and the contributors take seriously the possibility that excellent analytic philosophy can be undertaken without naturalization. Controversial and thought-provoking, _Analytic Philosophy Without Naturalism_ examines interesting and contentious methodological issues in analytic philosophy and explores the connections between philosophy and science. (shrink)
In this essay, I examine those versions of hylomorphism that attribute to form a very strong explicative role. According to them, form is both the source of new emergent powers and expression of the finalist structure of organisms. The main aim of this essay is to show that these two aspects do not holdup because the form only exercises a structural function, but does not exert an autonomous explanatory function. The form only allows the material components to develop those powers (...) that are not manifest in themselves, outside the configuration that forms as structure gives them. If the higher faculties of the human mind are really emergent over the neurophysiological ones, hylomorphism cannot explain it. As a consequence, hylomorphism does not have the resources to oppose materialism, on the one hand, and dualism, on the other. (shrink)