With the rapidly growing amounts of information, visualization is becoming increasingly important, as it allows users to easily explore and understand large amounts of information. However the field of information visualiza- tion currently lacks sufficient theoretical foundations. This article addresses foundational questions connecting information visualization with computing and philosophy studies. The idea of multiscale information granula- tion is described based on two fundamental concepts: information (structure) and computation (process). A new information processing paradigm of Granular Computing enables stepwise increase of (...) granulation/aggregation of information on different levels of resolution, which makes possible dynamical viewing of data. Information produced by Google Earth is an illustration of visualization based on clustering (granulation) of information on a succession of layers. Depending on level, specific emergentproperties become visible as a result of different ways of aggregation of data/information. As information visualization ultimately aims at amplifying cognition, we discuss the process of simulation and emulation in relation to cognition, and in particular visual cognition. (shrink)
It is said what aggregative properties are and also what emergentproperties are, and examples are given each of kind of property. It is also explained why, even though all emergentproperties are aggregative properties, not all aggregative properties are emergentproperties. It is further made clear that, strictly speaking, emergence is a property of one's knowledge of a given kind of aggregate, and not of such aggregates themselves, this being why (...) a property that is emergent at one time will, when additional information becomes available, cease to be emergent. And it is explained why, for this very reason, the right answer to the question 'why does X exist?' is never 'because X is an emergent property.'. (shrink)
Reductionism is a central issue in the philosophy of biology. One common objection to reduction is that molecular explanation requires reference to higher-level properties, which I refer to as the context objection. I respond to this objection by arguing that a well-articulated notion of a mechanism and what I term mechanism extension enables one to accommodate the context-dependence of biological processes within a reductive explanation. The existence of emergent features in the context could be raised as an objection (...) to the possibility of reduction via this strategy. I argue that this objection can be overcome by showing that there is no tenable argument for the existence of emergentproperties that are not susceptible to a reductive explanation. (shrink)
Recent years have seen renewed interest in the emergence issue. The contemporary debate, in contrast with that of past times, has to do not so much with the mind–body problem as with the relationship between the physical and other domains; mostly with the biological domain. One of the main sources of this renewed interest is the study of complex and, in general, far-from-equilibrium self-preserving systems, which seem to fulfil one of the necessary conditions for an entity to be emergent; (...) namely, that its causal powers are not predictable from the causal powers of basic physical properties. However, I argue that much of the current emergentism debate has misfired by focusing on the interpretation of self-maintaining systems. In contrast, I claim that if we want to find emergentproperties, we should look not at complex systems, but at selection (natural selection, in particular). I argue that selection processes make the causal world ‘exuberant’ by making non-physical functional and relational properties enter the causal web of the world. (shrink)
Emergentproperties are intended to be genuine, natural higher level causally efficacious properties irreducible to physical ones. At the same time they are somehow dependent on or 'emergent from' complexes of physical properties, so that the doctrine of emergentproperties is not supposed to be returned to dualism. The doctrine faces two challenges: (i) to explain precisely how it is that such properties emerge - what is emergence; (ii) to explain how they (...) sidestep the exclusion problem - how it is that there is room for these properties to be causally efficacious, given the causal completeness of the physical. In this paper I explain how functional properties can meet both challenges. (shrink)
In this paper, I criticize Bedau's definition of `diachronically emergentproperties', which says that a property is a DEP if it can only be predicted by a simulation and is nominally emergent. I argue at length that this definition is not complete because it fails to eliminate trivial cases. I discuss the features that an additional criterion should meet in order to complete the definition and I develop a notion, salience, which together with the simulation requirement can (...) be used to characterize DEPs. In the second part of the paper, I sketch this notion. Basically, a property is salient when one can find an indicator, namely a descriptive function, that is such that its fitting description shifts from one elementary mathematical object to another when the property appears. Finally, I discuss restrictions that must be brought to what can count as DFs and EMOs if the definition of salience is to work and be non trivial. I conclude that salience can complete the definition of DEPs. (shrink)
Emergence is a notorious philosophical term of art. A variety of theorists have appropriated it for their purposes ever since George Henry Lewes gave it a philosophical sense in his 1875 Problems of Life and Mind. We might roughly characterize the shared meaning thus: emergent entities (properties or substances) ‘arise’ out of more fundamental entities and yet are ‘novel’ or ‘irreducible’ with respect to them. (For example, it is sometimes said that consciousness is an emergent property of (...) the brain.) Each of the quoted terms is slippery in its own right, and their specifications yield the varied notions of emergence that we discuss below. There has been renewed interest in emergence within discussions of the behavior of complex systems and debates over the reconcilability of mental causation, intentionality, or consciousness with physicalism. (shrink)
All organised bodies are composed of parts, similar to those composing inorganic nature, and which have even themselves existed in an inorganic state; but the phenomena of life, which result from the juxtaposition of those parts in a certain manner, bear no analogy to any of the effects which would be produced by the action of the component substances considered as mere physical agents. To whatever degree we might imagine our knowledge of the properties of the several ingredients of (...) a living body to be extended and perfected, it is certain that no mere summing up of the separate actions of those elements will ever amount to the action of the living body itself. (shrink)
Computational modeling plays an increasingly important explanatory role in cases where we investigate systems or problems that exceed our native epistemic capacities. One clear case where technological enhancement is indispensable involves the study of complex systems.1 However, even in contexts where the number of parameters and interactions that define a problem is small, simple systems sometimes exhibit non-linear features which computational models can illustrate and track. In recent decades, computational models have been proposed as a way to assist us in (...) understanding emergent phenomena. (shrink)
Published in: Edwina Taborsky, ed. (1999): Semiosis. Evolution. Energy: Towards a Reconceptualization of the Sign. Shaker Verlag, Aachen. (pp. 89-108). The book is based on the meeting "Semiosis. Evolution. Energy, Third International Conference on Semiotics", Victoria Collage, University of Toronto, Canada, October 17-19, 1997 (programme and list of papers, see the SEE web page:http://www.library.utoronto.ca/see).
This paper proposes that if individual X ‘inherits’ property F from individual Y, we should be leery of explanations that appeal to X’s being F. This bears on what I’ll call “emergent substance dualism”, the view that human persons or selves are metaphysically fundamental or “new kinds of things with new kinds of causal powers” even though they depend in some sense on physical particulars :5–23, 2006; Personal agency. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2008). Two of the most prominent advocates (...) of this view, Lynne Rudder Baker and E.J. Lowe, suggest that emergent particulars have physical properties in virtue of the relations they bear to physical particulars—they ‘inherit’ their physical properties. In Sect. 1, I argue that having a property F this way is not instantiating F. In Sect. 2, I raise concerns that if emergent particulars don’t instantiate physical properties, then facts about emergent particulars don’t explain intentional actions. I suggest that emergent dualism would be more attractive if it could avoid this apparent consequence. In Sect. 3, I propose a view according to which some instances of physical properties are instantiated by both an emergent particular and its body. (shrink)
T he term emergence is used to describe the appearance of new properties that arise when a system exceeds a certain level of size or complexity, properties that are absent from the constituents of the system. It is a concept often summed up by the phrase that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” and it is a key notion in the burgeoning field of complexity science. Life is often cited as a classic example of (...) an emergent phenomenon: no atoms of my body are living, yet I am living (see, for example, Morowitz ). Biological organisms depend on the processes of their constituent parts, yet they nevertheless exhibit a degree of autonomy from their parts (see, for example, Kauffman ). How can this be? These seem to be contradictory properties. (shrink)
Mereological nihilists are faced with a difficult challenge: explaining ordinary talk about material objects. Popular paraphrase strategies involve plurals, arrangements of particles, or fictions. In this paper, a new paraphrase strategy is put forward that has distinct advantages over its rivals: it is compatible with gunk and emergentproperties of macro-objects. The only assumption is a commitment to a liberal view of the nature of simples; the nihilist must be willing to accept the possibility of heterogeneous extended simples. (...) The author suggests reinterpreting the parthood and composition relations as modal. According to this paraphrase, composition is a kind of counterpart relation. The author shows that one can accept that mereological nihilism is metaphysically necessary, while endorsing all the claims of classical mereology. As a result, the nihilists are in exactly the same position as the classical mereologist when it comes to explaining talk about ordinary objects, but without the additional ontology. (shrink)
The contrast between the strategies of research employed in reductionism and holism masks a radical contradiction between two different scientific philosophies. We concentrate in particular on an analysis of the key philosophical issues which give structure to holistic thought. A first (non-exhaustive) analysis of the philosophical tradition will dwell upon: a) the theory of emergence: each level of organisation is characterised by properties whose laws cannot be deduced from the laws of the inferior levels of organisation (Engels, Morgan); b) (...) clarification of the relations between the “whole” and the “parts” (Woodger, Needham); c) the ontological or epistemological nature of the emergentproperties; are they a phenomenological reality or solely an artefact of the state of our knowledge? (Pepper, Henle, Hempel and Oppenheim); d) the proposition of the holistic theoretical and methodological model ( Novikoff, Feibleman). I then go on to examine the differences that exist between the reductionist and the holistic approaches at various levels of analysis: that is to say, the differences which affect their ontologies, methodologies and epistemologies respectively. I attempt to understand the spirit of a holistic approach to ecology by analyzing the major work of E.P. Odum Fundamentals of ecology (1953, 1959, 1971). I set forward what might be meant by the “holistic approach”, which is implicated in all the different levels of organisation at which the problem of “complexity” is debated. Ecology presents itself as an “holistic science” and Odum’s book offers a vision of the world which dates far back in the history of philosophy. By looking at the three different editions of this fundamental text on ecology, we may become aware of the evolution of Odum’s thought. In fact, only in the third and last edition is there a conscious appropriation of the holistic approach (by using the theoretical models of Feibleman who, for his part, refers to Novikoff). However, even when formally referring to the theory of emergence (that is to say the ontological nucleus of every holistic approach), Odum’s systemic analysis presents the same logical errors, which push him back into the reductionist domain. Above all, in his examination of the main concepts of “population”, “community” and “ecosystem”, there is a misunderstanding of the profound difference between “collective properties” and “emergentproperties”. Moreover, the cybernetic models of Odum’s systemic analysis (introduced into ecology by Margalef), allowed him to vastly oversimplify his methodological task: in fact, neither how many levels nor which levels of organization are fundamental for the study of each individual level is clearly marked. Finally, Odum analyses the ecosystem as composed of energetic flux and cycles of matter, referring to the trophic-dynamic vision of Lindeman. That is to say, in my opinion, he juxtaposes a reductionistic methodology and epistemology to an holistic ontology. (shrink)
Kris McDaniel has argued that strong composition as identity entails a principle he calls the Plural Duplication Principle, and that is inconsistent with the possibility of strongly emergentproperties. Theodore Sider has objected that this possibility is only inconsistent with a closely analogous principle he calls the Set Duplication Principle. According to Sider, however, the friend of strong composition as identity is under no pressure to accept. In this paper, I argue that she has strong reason to accept (...) either or a principle that is also inconsistent with the possibility of strongly emergentproperties. (shrink)
Sydney Shoemaker has recently given an account of emergentproperties according to which emergentproperties are a special type of structural property and the determination relation holding between emergentproperties and their base properties is one of "mere nomological supervenience." According to Shoemaker, emergentproperties are what he calls type-2 microstructural properties, whereas physical properties are type-1 microstructural properties. After highlighting the advantages of viewing emergentproperties (...) as a special class of microstructural properties, I show how according to his own causal theory of properties type-2 microstructural properties actually reduce to type-1 microstructural properties, and thus do not truly count as emergent. I then suggest an alternative view according to which emergentproperties are actually a third type of microstructural property, one not considered by Shoemaker. I conclude with reflections why we might view the dependence relation between emergentproperties and their physical base properties as a causal relation rather than one of mere supervenience. (shrink)
We propose a framework for analyzing the development, operation and failure to survive of all things, living, non-living or organized groupings. This framework is a sequence of developments that improve survival capability. Framework processes range from origination of any entity/system, to the development of increased survival capability and development of life-forms and organizations that use intelligence. This work deals with a series of developmental changes that arise from the uncovering of emergentproperties. The framework is intended to be (...) general, but we see a potential to apply it to scientific topics such as the exploration of the origin of life or the search for life beyond Earth, and to understand some biological issues in evolution and symbiosis, and also to apply to social systems that do not seem to be operating well, to determine their problems and correct them. (shrink)
In this paper, I provide an argument for pannormism, the view according to which there are normative properties all the way down. In particular, I argue for what I call the trickling down principle, which says that if there is a metaphysically basic normative property, then, if whatever instantiates it has a ground, that ground instantiates it as well.
In a recent paper, Bird (in: Groff (ed.) Revitalizing causality: Realism about causality in philosophy and social science, 2007 ) has argued that some higher-order properties—which he calls “evolved emergentproperties”—can be considered causally efficacious in spite of exclusion arguments. I have previously argued in favour of a similar position. The basic argument is that selection processes do not take physical categorical properties into account. Rather, selection mechanisms are only tuned to what such properties can (...) do, i.e., to their causal powers. This picture seems ultimately untenable in the light of further exclusion problems; but at the same time, it meets our explanatory demands. My purpose is therefore to show that there is a real antinomy with regard to evolved emergentproperties. I develop a physicalist exclusion argument and then I go on to consider an argument that seems to establish that evolved emergentproperties are causally efficacious, and propose a compatibilist solution. Finally, I very briefly consider what the proposed model may imply for the issue of mental causation. (shrink)
Downward causation is commonly held to create problems for ontologically emergentproperties. In this paper I describe two novel examples of ontologically emergentproperties and show how they avoid two main problems of downward causation, the causal exclusion problem and the causal closure problem. One example involves an object whose colour does not logically supervene on the colours of its atomic parts. The other example is inspired by quantum entanglement cases but avoids controversies regarding quantum mechanics. (...) These examples show that the causal exclusion problem can be avoided, in one case by showing how it is possible to interact with an object without interacting with its atomic parts. I accept that emergence cannot be reconciled with causal closure, but argue that violations of causal closure do not entail violations of the base-level laws. Only the latter would conflict with empirical science. (shrink)
Here I offer a precise analysis of what it takes for a property to count as emergent. The features widely considered crucial to emergence include novelty, unpredictability, supervenience, relationality, and downward causal influence. By acknowledging each of these distinctive features, the definition provided below captures an important sense in which the whole can be more than the sum of its parts.
A great deal has been made of the question of whether nano-materials provide a unique set of ethical challenges. Equally important is the question of whether they provide a unique set of regulatory challenges. In the last 18 months, the US Environmental Protection Agency has begun the process of trying to meet the regulatory challenge of nano using the Toxic Substances Control Act (1976)(TSCA). In this central piece of legislation, ‘newness’ is a critical concept. Current EPA policy, we argue, does (...) not adequately (or ethically) deal with the novelty of nano. This paper is an exploration of how to do a better job of accounting for nanomaterials as ‘new.’ We explore three alternative ways that nanomaterials might be made to fall under the TSCA regulatory umbrella. Since nanomaterials are of interest precisely because of the exciting new properties that emerge at the nano-scale, each of these three alternatives must meet what we call the ‘novelty condition’ and avoid what we call the ‘central paradox’ of existing regulatory policy. Failure to meet either of these conditions is a moral failure. We examine both the strengths and weaknesses of each alternative in order to illuminate the conceptual, practical, and moral challenges of novelty. (shrink)
If one demystifies entropy the second law of thermodynamics comes out as an emergent property entirely based on the simple dynamic mechanical laws that govern the motion and energies of system parts on a micro-scale. The emergence of the second law is illustrated in this paper through the development of a new, very simple and highly efficient technique to compare time-averaged energies in isolated conservative linear large scale dynamical systems. Entropy is replaced by a notion that is much more (...) transparent and more or less dual called ectropy. Ectropy has been introduced before but we further modify the notion of ectropy such that the unit in which it is expressed becomes the unit of energy. The second law of thermodynamics in terms of ectropy states that ectropy decreases with time on a large enough time-scale and has an absolute minimum equal to zero. Zero ectropy corresponds to energy equipartition. Basically we show that by enlarging the dimension of an isolated conservative linear dynamical system and the dimension of the system parts over which we consider time-averaged energy partition, the tendency towards equipartition increases while equipartition is achieved in the limit. This illustrates that the second law is an emergent property of these systems. Finally from our large scale linear dynamic model we clarify Loschmidt’s paradox concerning the irreversible behavior of ectropy obtained from the reversible dynamic laws that govern motion and energy at the micro-scale. (shrink)
This is an excerpt from a report on the workshop on multisensory integration at the University of Toronto, on May 9th and 10th, 2014, written by Kevin Connolly, Aaron Henry, Zoe Jenkin, and Andrew MacGregor, and available at: http://networksensoryresearch.utoronto.ca/Events_%26_Discussion.html This excerpt explores the question: Do multisensory percepts involve emergent features?
The architects of punctuated equilibrium and species selection as well as more recent workers (Vrba) have narrowed the original formulation of species selection and made it dependent upon so-called emergent characters. One criticism of this narrow version is the dearth of emergent characters with a consequent diminution in the robustness of species selection as an important evolutionary process. We argue that monomorphic species characters may at times be the focus of selection and that under these circumstances selection at (...) the organism level is by-passed due to the absence of critical variance. Selection therefore shifts to the species level where variability reemerges in a clade. The absence of critical variance among organisms prevents effect macroevolution from operating. If species-wide properties are important in macroevolutionary processes, as we contend, systematists should pay more attention to their elucidation. (shrink)
This paper aims to improve critical realism's understanding of emergence by discussing, first, what emergence is and how it works; second, the need for a compositional account of emergence; and third, the implications of emergence for causation. It goes on to argue that the theory of emergence leads to the recognition of certain hitherto neglected similarities between real causal powers and actual causation. (edited).
The interpretation of metaphorical utterances often results in the attribution of emergentproperties, which are neither standardly associated with the individual constituents in isolation nor derivable by standard rules of semantic composition. An adequate pragmatic account of metaphor interpretation must explain how these properties are derived. Using the framework of relevance theory, we propose a wholly inferential account, and argue that the derivation of emergentproperties involves no special interpretive mechanisms not required for the interpretation (...) of ordinary, literal utterances. (shrink)
Is there a problem of causal exclusion between micro- and macro-level physical properties? I argue (following Kim) that the sorts of properties that in fact are in competition are macro properties, viz., the property of a (macro-) system of 'having such-and-such macro properties' (call this a 'macro-structural property') and the property of the same system of 'being constituted by such-and-such a micro- structure' (call this a 'micro-structural property'). I show that there are cases where, for lack (...) of reducibility, there is a prima facie intra-level causal competition between the two kinds of properties. The problem can be resolved without giving up on the causal efficacy of the macro-structural properties if we understand instances of macro-structural properties to be parts of micro-structural property instances. The parthood relation between both kinds of property instances can be mapped onto the way physical theory deals with the relation of their descriptions in the framework of perturbation theory. The application of this framework to the problem of emergentproperties is discussed. (shrink)
The classical holism-reductionism debate, which has been of major importance to the development of ecological theory and methodology, is an epistemological patchwork. At any moment, there is a risk of it slipping into an incoherent, chaotic Tower of Babel. Yet philosophy, like the sciences, requires that words and their correlative concepts be used rigorously and univocally. The prevalent use of everyday language in the holism-reductionism issue may give a false impression regarding its underlying clarity and coherence. In reality, the conceptual (...) categories underlying the debate have yet to be accurately defined and consistently used. There is a need to map out a clear conceptual, logical and epistemological framework. To this end, we propose a minimalist epistemological foundation. The issue is easier to grasp if we keep in mind that holism generally represents the ontological background of emergentism, but does not necessarily coincide with it. We therefore speak in very loose terms of the “holism-reductionism” debate, although it would really be better characterised by the terms emergentism and reductionism. The confrontation between these antagonistic paradigms unfolds at various semantic and operational levels. In definitional terms, there is not just emergentism and reductionism, but various kinds of emergentisms and reductionisms. (shrink)
I argue that meaning or significanceper se, along with the capacity to be conscious thereof, and the values, motives and aspirations, etc. central to the constitution of our intrinsic personal identities, arise, as indeed do our extrinsic social identities, and our very self-consciousness as such, from socio-cultural structures and relations to others. However, so far from our identities and behavior therefore being determined, I argue that the capacity for critical reflection and evaluation emerge from these same structural relations, the more (...) complex and quintessentially human aspects of our behavior being explained not in terms of responses to stimuli but as choices reflecting our evaluation of meaningful or significant alternatives. Finally I provide theoretical grounds for accepting the existence of other subjects and give a holistic, as opposed to a dialectical, account of the way individuals may challenge and change the very socio-cultural ways of relating to and interacting with others so central to constituting their capacities and identities. (shrink)