Though most contemporary philosophers and scientists accept a physicalist view of mind, the recent surge of interest in the problem of consciousness has put the mind /body problem back into play. The physicalists' lack of success in dispelling the air of residual mystery that surrounds the question of how consciousness might be physically explained has led to a proliferation of options. Some offer alternative formulations of physicalism, but others forgo physicalism in favour of views that are more dualistic or that (...) bring in mentalistic features at the ground- floor level of reality as in pan-proto-psychism. My aim here is to give an overview of the recent philosophic discussion to serve as a map in locating issues and options. I will not offer a comprehensive survey of the debate or mark every important variant to be found in the recent literature. I will mark the principal features of the philosophic landscape that one might use as general orientation points in navigating the terrain. I will focus in particular on three central and interrelated ideas: those of emergence, reduction, and nonreductive physicalism. The third of these, which has emerged as more or less the majority view among current philosophers of mind, combines a pluralist view about the diversity of what needs to be explained by science with an underlying metaphysical commitment to the physical as the ultimate basis of all that is real. The view has been challenged from both left and right, on one side from dualists and on the other from hard core reductive materialists. Despite their differences, those critics agree in finding nonreductive physicalism an unacceptable and perhaps even incoherent position. They agree as well in treating reducibility as the essential criterion for physicality; they differ only about whether the criterion can be met. Reductive physicalists argue that it can, and dualists deny it. (shrink)
This is a companion to another paper. Together they rebut two widespread philosophical doctrines about emergence. The first, and main, doctrine is that emergence is incompatible with reduction. The second is that emergence is supervenience; or more exactly, supervenience without reduction.In the other paper, I develop these rebuttals in general terms, emphasising the second rebuttal. Here I discuss the situation in physics, emphasising the first rebuttal. I focus on limiting relations between theories and illustrate my (...) claims with four examples, each of them a model or a framework for modelling, from well-established mathematics or physics.I take emergence as behaviour that is novel and robust relative to some comparison class. I take reduction as, essentially, deduction. The main idea of my first rebuttal will be to perform the deduction after taking a limit of some parameter. Thus my first main claim will be that in my four examples (and many others), we can deduce a novel and robust behaviour, by taking the limit N→∞ of a parameter N.But on the other hand, this does not show that the N=∞ limit is “physically real”, as some authors have alleged. For my second main claim is that in these same examples, there is a weaker, yet still vivid, novel and robust behaviour that occurs before we get to the limit, i.e. for finite N. And it is this weaker behaviour which is physically real.My examples are: the method of arbitrary functions (in probability theory); fractals (in geometry); superselection for infinite systems (in quantum theory); and phase transitions for infinite systems (in statistical mechanics). (shrink)
This is one of two papers about emergence, reduction and supervenience. It expounds these notions and analyses the general relations between them. The companion paper analyses the situation in physics, especially limiting relations between physical theories. I shall take emergence as behaviour that is novel and robust relative to some comparison class. I shall take reduction as deduction using appropriate auxiliary definitions. And I shall take supervenience as a weakening of reduction, viz. to allow infinitely (...) long definitions. The overall claim of this paper will be that emergence is logically independent both of reduction and of supervenience. In particular, one can have emergence with reduction, as well as without it; and emergence without supervenience, as well as with it. Of the subsidiary claims, the four main ones are: : I defend the traditional Nagelian conception of reduction ; : I deny that the multiple realizability argument causes trouble for reductions, or ``reductionism'' ; : I stress the collapse of supervenience into deduction via Beth's theorem ; : I adapt some examples already in the literature to show supervenience without emergence and vice versa. (shrink)
The received view about emergence and reduction is that they are incompatible categories. I argue in this paper that, contrary to the received view, emergence and reduction can hold together. To support this thesis, I focus attention on dynamical systems and, on the basis of a general representation theorem, I argue that, as far as these systems are concerned, the emulation relationship is sufficient for reduction (intuitively, a dynamical system DS1 emulates a second dynamical system (...) DS2 when DS1 exactly reproduces the whole dynamics of DS2). This representational view of reduction, contrary to the standard deductivist one, is compatible with the existence of structural properties of the reduced system that are not also properties of the reducing one. Therefore, under this view, by no means are reduction and emergence incompatible categories but, rather, complementary ones. (shrink)
Relationships between current theories, and relationships between current theories and the sought theory of quantum gravity (QG), play an essential role in motivating the need for QG, aiding the search for QG, and defining what would count as QG. Correspondence is the broad class of inter-theory relationships intended to demonstrate the necessary compatibility of two theories whose domains of validity overlap, in the overlap regions. The variety of roles that correspondence plays in the search for QG are illustrated, using examples (...) from specific QG approaches. Reduction is argued to be a special case of correspondence, and to form part of the definition of QG. Finally, the appropriate account of emergence in the context of QG is presented, and compared to conceptions of emergence in the broader philosophy literature. It is argued that, while emergence is likely to hold between QG and general relativity, emergence is not part of the definition of QG, and nor can it serve usefully in the development and justification of the new theory. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that the ontological interpretation of the concepts of reduction and emergence is often misleading in the philosophy of science and should nearly always be eschewed in favor of an epistemological interpretation. As a paradigm case, an example is drawn from the philosophy of chemistry to illustrate the drawbacks of “ontological reduction” and “ontological emergence,” and the virtues of an epistemological interpretation of these concepts.
A closer look at some proposed Gedanken-experiments on BECs promises to shed light on several aspects of reduction and emergence in physics. These include the relations between classical descriptions and different quantum treatments of macroscopic systems, and the emergence of new properties and even new objects as a result of spontaneous symmetry breaking.
Rom Harré thinks that the Emergence–Reduction debate, conceived as a vertical problem, is partly ill posed. Even if he doesn’t wholly reject the traditional definition of an emergent property as a property of a collection but not of its components, his point is that this definition doesn’t exhaust all the dimensions of emergence. According to Harré there is another kind (or dimension) of emergence, which we may call—somewhat paradoxically—“horizontal emergence”: two properties of a substance are (...) horizontally emergent relative to each other if they cannot be displayed in the same conditions. Contrary to vertical emergence, horizontal emergence is a symmetrical relation. Harré endorses horizontal emergentism. I argue that this position faces a principled difficulty: it makes it impossible to bind different horizontally emergent discourses in an interesting way. Physics and biology for example become “island” discourses, each speaking of a distinct kind of entities. The only way to ensure that two different discourses can relate to the same entity is to reintroduce verticality into the picture. (shrink)
The question of the ontological status of social wholes has been formative to the development of key positions and debates within modern social theory. Intrinsic to this is the contested meaning of the concept of emergence and the idea that the collective whole is in some way more than the sum of its parts. This claim, in its contemporary form, gives exaggerated importance to a simple truism of re-description that concerns all wholes. In this paper I argue that a (...) better way to test the ontological status of wholes is to ask whether their causal properties can be reduced to the qualities of their parts. If reduction is possible the ontological status of emergent wholes is diminished. A close analysis of William Wimsatt's definition, conceptualisation, and characterisation of emergent phenomena provides an understanding of the relationship between wholes and their parts and suggests, also, that the properties of collective phenomena of a social kind reduce to the activities of people. Social wholes and their parts reside in the same mode (or level) of organisation. This paper concludes by employing Jaegwon Kim's method of ‘functional reduction’ to demonstrate how to reduce the qualities of wholes to those of their parts. (shrink)
I analyse Rueger’s application of Kim’s model of functional reduction to the relation between the thermal conductivities of metal bars at macroscopic and atomic scales. 1) I show that it is a misunderstanding to accuse the functional reduction model of not accounting for the fact that there are causal powers at the micro-level which have no equivalent at the macro-level. The model not only allows but requires that the causal powers by virtue of which a functional predicate is (...) defined, are only a subset of the causal powers of the properties filling the functional specification. 2) The fact that the micro-equation does not converge to the macro-equation in general but only under the constraint of a “solvability condition” does not show that reduction is impossible, as Rueger claims, but only that reduction requires inter-level constraints. 3) Rueger tries to analyse inter-level reduction with the conceptual means of intra-level reduction. This threatens the coherence of his analysis, given that it makes no sense to ascribe macroproperties such as thermal conductivity to entities at the atomic level. Ignoring the distinction between theses two senses of “reduction” is especially confusing because they have opposite directions: in intra-level reduction, the more detailed account reduces to the less detailed one, whereas in inter-level reduction, the less detailed theory is reduced to the more detailed one. 4) Finally I criticize Rueger’s way of using Wimsatt’s criteria for emergence in terms of non-aggregativity, to construct a concept of synchronic emergence. It is wrong to require, over and above non-aggregativity, irreducibility as a criterion for emergence. (shrink)
In a recent critique of the doctrine of emergentism championed by its classic advocates up to C. D. Broad, Jaegwon Kim (Philosophical Studies 63:31–47, 1999) challenges their view about its applicability to the sciences and proposes a new account of how the opposing notion of reduction should be understood. Kim is critical of the classic conception advanced by Nagel and uses his new account in his criticism of emergentism. I question his claims about the successful reduction achieved in (...) the sciences and argue that his new account has not improved on Nagel’s and that the critique of emergentism he bases on it is question-begging in important respects. (shrink)
In previous work, I described several examples combining reduction and emergence: where reduction is understood a la Ernest Nagel, and emergence is understood as behaviour that is novel. Here, my aim is again to reconcile reduction and emergence, for a case which is apparently more problematic than those I treated before: renormalization. My main point is that renormalizability being a generic feature at accessible energies gives us a conceptually unified family of Nagelian reductions. That (...) is worth saying since philosophers tend to think of scientific explanation as only explaining an individual event, or perhaps a single law, or at most deducing one theory as a special case of another. Here we see a framework in which there is a space of theories endowed with enough structure that it provides a family of reductions. (shrink)
Though most contemporary philosophers and scientists accept a physicalist view of mind, the recent surge of interest in the problem of consciousness has put the mind/body problem back into play. The physicalists' lack of success in dispelling the air of residual mystery that surrounds the question of how consciousness might be physically explained has led to a proliferation of options. Some offer alternative formulations of physicalism, but others forgo physicalism in favour of views that are more dualistic or that bring (...) in mentalistic features at the ground- floor level of reality as in pan-proto-psychism. My aim here is to give an overview of the recent philosophic discussion to serve as a map in locating issues and options. I will not offer a comprehensive survey of the debate or mark every important variant to be found in the recent literature. I will mark the principal features of the philosophic landscape that one might use as general orientation points in navigating the terrain. I will focus in particular on three central and interrelated ideas: those of emergence, reduction, and nonreductive physicalism. The third of these, which has emerged as more or less the majority view among current philosophers of mind, combines a pluralist view about the diversity of what needs to be explained by science with an underlying metaphysical commitment to the physical as the ultimate basis of all that is real. The view has been challenged from both left and right, on one side from dualists and on the other from hard core reductive materialists. Despite their differences, those critics agree in finding nonreductive physicalism an unacceptable and perhaps even incoherent position. They agree as well in treating reducibility as the essential criterion for physicality; they differ only about whether the criterion can be met. Reductive physicalists argue that it can, and dualists deny it. (shrink)
Kim’s model of ‘functional reduction’ of properties is shown to fail in a class of cases from physics involving properties at different spatial levels. The diagnosis of this failure leads to a non-reductive account of the relation of micro and macro properties.
In this paper I examine Jaegwon Kim’s view that emergent properties are irreducible to the base properties on which they supervene. Kim’s view assumes a model of ‘functional reduction’ which he claims to be substantially different from the traditional Nagelian model. I dispute this claim and argue that the two models are only superficially different, and that on either model, properly understood, it is possible to draw a distinction between a property’s being reductively identifiable with its base property and (...) a property’s being reductively explainable in terms of it. I propose that we should take as the distinguishing feature of emergent properties that they be truly novel properties, i.e., ontologically distinct from the ‘base’ properties which they supervene on. This only requires that emergent properties cannot be reductively identified with their base properties, not that they cannot be reductively explained in terms of them. On this conception the set of emergent properties may well include mental properties as conceived by nonreductive physicalists. (shrink)
In a scientific context, ontological commitments should be considered as supervenient over accepted scientific theories. This implies that the primarily ontological notions of reduction and emergence of entities of different kinds should be reformulated in terms of relations between existing empirical theories. For this, in turn, it is most convenient to employ a model-theoretic view of scientific theories: the identity criterion of a scientific theory is essentially given by a class of models. Accordingly, reduction and emergence (...) are to be seen as particular kinds of relations between models of different theories that subsume the same "experiential field". The set-theoretical notion of an echelon-set proves to be crucial for this purpose: The domains in the models of the reduced theory are echelon-sets over the domains of the reducing theory. Finally, it is argued that emergence may plausibly be interpreted as akin to but weaker than reduction. (shrink)
This chapter describes the application of reduction concepts in emergence and self organization of complex dynamical system. Condition-dependent laws compress and dynamical equation sets provide implicit compressed representations even when most of that information is not explicitly available without decompression. And, paradoxically, there is still the determined march of fundamental analytical dynamics expanding its compression reach toward a Theory of Everything—even while the more rapidly expanding domain of complex systems dynamics confronts its assumptions and its monolithicity. Nor does (...) science fall apart into a disunified aggregate of particular cases since, with fundamental dynamics as a backbone, complex matching up of models across theoretical and empirical domains then articulates its model-structured skeleton. Discussion provides the delicately entwined dance of emergence and reduction providing constraints on compression that also permit its expansion. However, while the vision is not dead, it is currently substantially more complexly structured through model similarities and differences than that initially envisaged and individuals are left with deep questions about compression unresolved. (shrink)
The debate between emergentists and reductionists rests on the observation that in many situations, in which it seems desirable to work with a coherent and unified discourse, key predicates fall into different groups, such that pairs of members one taken from each group, cannot be co-predicated of some common subject. Must we settle for ‘island’ discourses in science and human affairs or is some route to a unified discourse still open? To make progress towards resolving the issue the conditions under (...) which such segregations of predicates seem inexorable must be brought out. The distinction between determinable and determinate properties throws light on some aspects of this problem. Bohr’s concept of complementarity, when combined with Gibson’s idea of an affordances as a special class of dispositional properties is helpful. Several seeming problems melt away, for example, how it is possible for a group of notes to become hearable as a melody. The mind-body problem and the viability of the project of reducing biology to chemistry and physics are two issues that are more difficult to deal with. Are mental phenomena, such as feelings and memories emergent from material systems or are they actually material properties themselves? Are the attributes of living beings emergent from certain accidental but long running collocations of chemical reactions, or are they nothing but chemical phenomena? If emergent, in what way are they distinctive from that from which they emerge? (shrink)
An effective theory in physics is one that is supposed to apply only at a given length scale; the framework of effective field theory describes a ‘tower’ of theories each applying at different length scales, where each ‘level’ up is a shorter-scale theory. Owing to subtlety regarding the use and necessity of EFTs, a conception of emergence defined in terms of reduction is irrelevant. I present a case for decoupling emergence and reduction in the philosophy of (...) physics. This paper develops a positive conception of emergence, based on the novelty and autonomy of the ‘levels’, by considering physical examples, involving critical phenomena, the renormalisation group, and symmetry breaking. This positive conception of emergence is related to underdetermination and universality, but, I argue, is preferable to other accounts of emergence in physics that rely on universality. (shrink)
A metaphysics of the world described by contemporary science faces the problem of the relative ontological status of microphysical constituents (e.g. elementary particles), ultimate mathematical structures (e.g. of the Standard Model and General Relativity), and complex macroscopic systems with their arguably emergent properties. Justus Buchler's ordinal metaphysics, which provides a "view from anywhere" by analyzing whatever is under consideration through its location in an order of relationships, refusing to privilege any type of being, contributes a fresh perspective to this discussion. (...) While Buchler's metaphysics of natural complexes might seem too pluralistic to be compatible with physicalism—since the latter grants metaphysical priority to the physical and to science's claims about it—a physicalist account can be conceived inside his ordinal metaphysics. Like the Aristotelian "metaphysics of the middle," such an approach avoids both the Democritean metaphysics of Simples and the Platonist metaphysics of the Whole. In so doing it provides special resources for conceiving the status of wholes and components commonly disputed by reductionists and emergentists, e.g. complex material systems, organisms, and minds. Towards that end, this paper sketches the outlines of an ordinal physicalism. (shrink)
In another paper, one of us argued that emergence and reduction are compatible, and presented four examples illustrating both. The main purpose of this paper is to develop this position for the example of phase transitions. We take it that emergence involves behaviour that is novel compared with what is expected: often, what is expected from a theory of the system's microscopic constituents. We take reduction as deduction, aided by appropriate definitions. Then the main idea of (...) our reconciliation of emergence and reduction is that one makes the deduction after taking a limit of an appropriate parameter $N$. Thus our first main claim will be that in some situations, one can deduce a novel behaviour, by taking a limit $N\to\infty$. Our main illustration of this will be Lee-Yang theory. But on the other hand, this does not show that the $N=\infty$ limit is physically real. For our second main claim will be that in such situations, there is a logically weaker, yet still vivid, novel behaviour that occurs before the limit, i.e. for finite $N$. And it is this weaker behaviour which is physically real. Our main illustration of this will be the renormalization group description of cross-over phenomena. (shrink)
Emergence and reduction in context: Philosophy of science and/or analytic metaphysics Content Type Journal Article Category Survey Review Pages 1-16 DOI 10.1007/s11016-012-9671-4 Authors Michael Silberstein, Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA 17022, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
All the major inter-theoretic relations of fundamental science are asymptotic ones, e.g. quantum theory as Planck's constant h 0, yielding (roughly) Newtonian mechanics. Thus asymptotics ultimately grounds claims about inter-theoretic explanation, reduction and emergence. This paper examines four recent, central claims by Batterman concerning asymptotics and reduction. While these claims are criticised, the discussion is used to develop an enriched, dynamically-based account of reduction and emergence, to show its capacity to illuminate the complex variety of (...) inter-theory relationships in physics, and to provide a principled resolution to such persistent philosophical problems as multiple realisability and the nature of the special sciences. Introduction Exposition Examination I: Claims (1) and (2), asymptotic explanation and reference Examination II: Claim (3), reduction and singular asymptotics Examination III: Claim (4), emergence and multiple realisability Conclusion. (shrink)
Grand debates over reduction and emergence are playing out across the sciences, but these debates have reached a stalemate, with both sides declaring victory on empirical grounds. In this book, Carl Gillett provides new theoretical frameworks with which to understand these debates, illuminating both the novel positions of scientific reductionists and emergentists and the recent empirical advances that drive these new views. Gillett also highlights the flaws in existing philosophical frameworks and reorients the discussion to reflect the new (...) scientific advances and issues, including the nature of 'parts' and 'wholes', the character of aggregation, and thus the continuity of nature itself. Most importantly, Gillett shows how disputes about concrete scientific cases are empirically resolvable and hence how we can break the scientific stalemate. Including a detailed glossary of key terms, this volume will be valuable for researchers and advanced students of the philosophy of science and metaphysics, and scientific researchers working in the area. (shrink)
Various claims regarding intertheoretic reduction, weak and strong notions of emergence, and explanatory fictions have been made in the context of first-order thermodynamic phase transitions. By appealing to John Norton’s recent distinction between approximation and idealization, I argue that the case study of anyons and fractional statistics, which has received little attention in the philosophy of science literature, is more hospitable to such claims. In doing so, I also identify three novel roles that explanatory fictions fulfill in science. (...) Furthermore, I scrutinize the claim that anyons, as they are ostensibly manifested in the fractional quantum Hall effect, are emergent entities and urge caution. Consequently, it is suggested that a particular notion of strong emergence signals the need for the development of novel physical–mathematical research programs. (shrink)
Robert Batterman examines a form of scientific reasoning called asymptotic reasoning, arguing that it has important consequences for our understanding of the scientific process as a whole. He maintains that asymptotic reasoning is essential for explaining what physicists call universal behavior. With clarity and rigor, he simplifies complex questions about universal behavior, demonstrating a profound understanding of the underlying structures that ground them. This book introduces a valuable new method that is certain to fill explanatory gaps across disciplines.
Two articles on the reduction of chemistry are examined. The first, by McLaughlin (1992), claims that chemistry is reduced to physics and that there is no evidence for emergence or for downward causation between the chemical and the physical level. In a more recent article, Le Poidevin (2005) maintains that his combinatorial approach provides grounding for the ontological reduction of chemistry, which also circumvents some limitations in the physicalist program. †To contact the author, please write to: Department (...) of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UCLA, 607 Charles E. Young Drive East, Box 951569, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1569; e-mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
The groups of problems that fall under the titles ‘reduction’ and ‘emergence’ appear at the boundaries of seemingly independent and well-established scientific disciplines, such as chemistry and biology, biology and psychology, biology and political theory, and so on. They arise in this way.
The question of the ontological status of social wholes has been formative to the development of key positions and debates within modern social theory. Intrinsic to this is the contested meaning of the concept of emergence and the idea that the collective whole is in some way more than the sum of its parts. This claim, in its contemporary form, gives exaggerated importance to a simple truism of re-description that concerns all wholes. In this paper I argue that a (...) better way to test the ontological status of wholes is to ask whether their causal properties can be reduced to the qualities of their parts. If reduction is possible the ontological status of emergent wholes is diminished. A close analysis of William Wimsatt's definition, conceptualisation, and characterisation of emergent phenomena provides an understanding of the relationship between wholes and their parts and suggests, also, that the properties of collective phenomena of a social kind reduce to the activities of people. Social wholes and their parts reside in the same mode of organisation. This paper concludes by employing Jaegwon Kim's method of ‘functional reduction’ to demonstrate how to reduce the qualities of wholes to those of their parts. (shrink)
We address the question whether there is an explanation for the fact that as Fodor put it the micro-level “converges on stable macro-level properties”, and whether there are lessons from this explanation for other issues in the vicinity. We argue that stability in large systems can be understood in terms of statistical limit theorems. In the thermodynamic limit of infinite system size N → ∞ systems will have strictly stable macroscopic properties in the sense that transitions between different macroscopic phases (...) of matter (if there are any) will not occur in finite time. Indeed stability in this sense is a consequence of the absence of fluctuations, as (large) fluctuations would be required to induce such macroscopic transformations. These properties can be understood in terms of coarse-grained descriptions, and the statistical limit theorems for independent or weakly dependent random variable describing the behaviour averages and the statistics of fluctuations in the large system limit. We argue that RNG analyses applied to off-critical systems can provide a rationalization for the applicability of these limit theorems. Furthermore we discuss some related issues as, for example, the role of the infinite-system idealization. (shrink)
It is frequently said that biology is emerging from a long phase of reductionism. It would be certainly more correct to say that biologists are abandoning a certain form of reductionism. We describe this past form, and the experiments which challenged the previous vision. To face the difficulties which were met, biologists use a series of concepts and metaphors - pleiotropy, tinkering, epigenetics - the ambiguity of which masks the difficulties, instead of solving them. In a similar way, the word (...) “post-genomics” has different meanings, depending upon who uses it. Which of these meanings will become dominant in the future is an open question. (shrink)
Beginning with Anderson, spontaneous symmetry breaking in infinite quantum systems is often put forward as an example of emergence in physics, since in theory no finite system should display it. Even the correspondence between theory and reality is at stake here, since numerous real materials show ssb in their ground states, although they are finite. Thus against what is sometimes called ‘Earman's Principle’, a genuine physical effect seems theoretically recovered only in some idealisation, disappearing as soon as the idealisation (...) is removed.We review the well-known arguments that no finite system can exhibit ssb, using the formalism of algebraic quantum theory in order to control the thermodynamic limit and unify the description of finite- and infinite-volume systems. Using the striking mathematical analogy between the thermodynamic limit and the classical limit, we show that a similar situation obtains in quantum mechanics versus classical mechanics.This discrepancy between formalism and reality is quite similar to the measurement problem, and hence we address it in the same way, adapting an argument of the Landsman and Reuvers that was originally intended to explain the collapse of the wave-function within conventional quantum mechanics. Namely, exponential sensitivity to perturbations of the dynamics as the system size increases causes symmetry breaking already in finite but very large quantum systems. This provides continuity between finite- and infinite-volume descriptions of quantum systems featuring ssb and hence restores Earman's Principle. (shrink)
Many of the arguments against reductionism and fundamental theory as a method for explaining physical phenomena focus on the role of models as the appropriate vehicle for this task. While models can certainly provide us with a good deal of explanatory detail, problems arise when attempting to derive exact results from approximations. In addition, models typically fail to explain much of the stability and universality associated with critical point phenomena and phase transitions, phenomena sometimes referred to as "emergent." The paper (...) examines the connection between theoretical principles like spontaneous symmetry breaking and emergent phenomena and argues that new ways of thinking about emergence and fundamentalism are required in order to account for the behavior of many phenomena in condensed matter and other areas of physics. (shrink)
This book sets the standard, and a very high one at that, for the ongoing discussion of emergence in philosophy and science.1 1 Engaging but rigorous in argumentation, comprehensive but attentive to detail, it is a model of philosophical writing.
The traditional way of thinking about science goes back to the corpuscular philosophy with its micro-reductive mechanism and metaphor of reading God's Book of Nature. This "story-1" with its rhetoric of exact truths contrasts with "story-2" which describes science as a continuation of the always imperfect powers of representation given to us by evolution. On story-2 reduction is one among other knowledge fashioning strategies and shares the imperfections of all human knowledge. When we appreciate that human knowledge always admits (...) of refinement, what appear as "emergent properties" no long seems mysterious. (shrink)
One recently popular way to characterise strong emergence is to say that emergent entities possess novel causal powers. However, there is little agreement concerning the nature of powers. One controversy involves whether powers are single- or multi-track; that is, whether each power has only one manifestation type, or whether a single power can be directed towards a number of distinct manifestations. Another concerns how powers operate: whether a lone power manifests when triggered by the presence of a suitable stimulus, (...) or whether powers operate mutually such that several powers must ‘work together’ to bring about a particular manifestation. This paper examines how these distinctions—which can be cross-combined to frame four distinct accounts of the nature of powers—bear on the debate between emergentists and reductionists. (shrink)
This paper examines the widespread intuition that the dynamical approach to cognitive science is importantly related to emergentism about the mind. The explanatory practices adopted by dynamical cognitive science rule out some conceptions of emergence; covering law explanations require a deducibility relationship between explanans and explanandum, whereas canonical theories of emergence require the absence of such deducibility. A response to this problem – one which would save the intuition that dynamics and emergence are related – is to (...) reconstrue the concept of emergence as a relationship between laws. I call this “nomological emergence” and comment on the extent to which dynamicists would find it acceptable. Alternatively, dynamical cognitive science might be viewed as fitting better with the kind of “functional reductionism” which has recently been developed by authors such as Jaegwon Kim. Which of these two alternatives is preferable remains an open question pending the further development of dynamical cognitive science, particularly in its “non-classical” forms. (shrink)
Une des doctrines centrales de l’émergentisme est la thèse selon laquelle certaines propriétés d’un tout sont émergentes, en ce sens qu’elles sont irréductibles aux propriétés de base dont elles émergent — c’est-à-dire qu’elles ne peuvent ni être prédites, ni être expliquées à partir de leurs conditions sousjacentes. Pour comprendre et évaluer cette thèse correctement, il est essentiel que nous disposions d’un concept adéquat de réduction. Nous examinons d’abord le modèle classique de la réduction interthéorique de Nagel, et nous soutenons qu’il (...) ne nous fournit pas une base adéquate pour comprendre la thèse émergentiste. Nous proposons ensuite un autre modèle de réduction, celui de la « réduction fonctionnelle », et nous montrons qu’il constitue une base adéquate permettant d’évaluer la thèse émergentiste. Nous concluons avec une brève discussion de la question de savoir si les propriétés phénoménales d’expériences conscientes, ou qualia , sont émergentes.A central doctrine of emergentism is the thesis that some properties of wholes are emergent in the sense that they are irreducible to the “basal” properties from which they emerge — that is, they are neither predictable nor explainable in terms of their underlying conditions. To understand and properly evaluate this claim, it is essential that we have at hand an appropriate concept of reduction. This paper first examines the classic Nagel model of inter- theoretic reduction and finds it wanting as a basis for understanding the emergentist claim. Another model of reduction, “functional reduction”, is proposed, and it is argued that this model does provide an appropriate basis for evaluating the claim that certain properties of wholes are emergent. The paper closes with a brief discussion of the question whether qualia , or the phenomenal properties of conscious experience, are emergent. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that starting with the organelles that constitute a cell - and continuing up the hierarchy of components in processes and subsystems of an organism - there exist clear instances of emergent biological phenomena that can be considered,,living" entities. These components and their attending processes are living emergent phenomena because of the way in which the components are organized to maintain homeostasis of the organism at the various levels in the hierarchy. I call this view the (...) homeostatic organization view of biological phenomena, and, as is shown, it comports well with the standard philosophical accounts of nomological emergence and representational emergence. To proffer HOV, I describe properties of biological entities that include internal-hierarchical data exchange, data selectivity, informational integration, and environmental-organismic information exchange. Further, a distinction is drawn between particularized homeostasis and generalized homeostasis, and I argue that because the various processes and subsystems of an organism are functioning properly in their internal environments, the organism is able to exist as a hierarchically-organized entity in some environment external to it. Stated simply: that components of biological phenomena are organized to perform some function resulting in homeostasis marks them out to be living emergent entities distinguishable, in description and in reality, from the very physico-chemical processes of which they are composed. German In diesem Aufsatz argumentiere ich dafür, daß - beginnend mit den Organellen, die eine Zelle bilden und die Hierarchie der Komponenten von Prozessen und Subsystemen eines Organismus hinaufführend - klare Fälle emergenter biologischer Phänomene existieren, die als,,lebende Entitäten betrachtet werden können. Diese Komponenten und die sie begleitenden Prozesse sind lebende emergente Phänomene wegen der Art, in der die Komponenten organisiert sind, um die Homöostase des Organismus auf den verschiedenen Ebenen in der Hierarchie aufrechtzuerhalten. Ich nenne diese Sichtweise die homöostatische Organisationssichtweise biologischer Phänomene, und es wird gezeigt, daß sie sich gut mit üblichen philosophischen Darstellungen nomologischer Emergenz und repräsentationaler Emergenz verträgt. Um HOV zu präsentieren, beschreibe ich Eigenschaften biologischer Entitäten, die den intern-hierarchischen Datenaustausch, die Datenselektivität, die informationelle Integration und den Umwelt-Organismus-Informationsaustausch einschließen. Des weiteren wird eine Unterscheidung zwischen partikularisierter und generalisierter Homöostase getroffen, und ich argumentiere dafür, daß ein Organismus fähig ist, als eine hierarchisch organisierte Entität in einigen Umwelten, die ihm extern sind, zu existieren, weil die verschiedenen Prozesse und Subsysteme eines Organismus in ihren internen Umwelten richtig funktionieren. Einfach formuliert: Daß Komponenten biologischer Phänomene organisiert sind, um eine Funktion zu erfüllen, die in Homöostase resultiert, zeichnet sie aus, lebende emergente Entitäten zu sein, die - in der Beschreibung und in der Wirklichkeit - von den physikalisch-chemischen Prozessen, aus denen sie zusammengesetzt sind, unterscheidbar sind. (shrink)