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Metaphysical Emergence: Weak and Strong

Wilson, Jessica Metaphysical Emergence: Weak and Strong. unpublished stable ms..

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Abstract

Nearly all accounts of emergence take this to involve both broadly synchronic dependence and (some measure of) ontological and causal autonomy. Beyond this agreement, however, accounts of emergence diverge into a bewildering variety, reflecting that the core notions of dependence and autonomy have multiple, often incompatible interpretations. Different accounts often disagree about whether an entity is emergent, or about whether emergence is compatible with physicalism; and when they agree, there is no often no clear basis for this agreement.

Here I argue that much of this apparent diversity is superficial. I start by considering a well-known problematic associated with special science entities: the problem of higher-level causation. Of the various strategies for addressing this problem there are two which plausibly accommodate both the dependence and the ontological and causal autonomy of special science entities. These strategies in turn suggest two distinct schemas for metaphysical emergence, which I call Weak and Strong emergence, respectively.

The two schemas are similar in that each imposes a (different, specific) condition on the powers of entities taken to be emergent, relative to the powers of their dependence base entities. Importantly, the notion of “power” at issue here is metaphysically almost entirely neutral—indeed, even a contingentist categoricalist Humean could accept powers in the weak sense at issue here. The conditions, and hence schemas, are also crucially different, however; in particular, one is compatible with physicalism, while the other is not. I go on to consider the main accounts of emergent dependence and emergent autonomy, showing how, properly understood and (in some cases) disambiguated, these aim to characterize one or the other schema.


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Item Type: Other
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Wilson, Jessicajessica.m.wilson@utoronto.ca
Additional Information: Some the content of this paper will enter into a book, _Metaphysical Emergence_.
Keywords: emergence, physicalism, special sciences, metaphysics
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Complex Systems
Specific Sciences > Chemistry
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Specific Sciences > Physics
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
General Issues > Structure of Theories
Depositing User: Prof. Jessica Wilson
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2014 16:25
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2014 20:28
Item ID: 10220
Journal or Publication Title: Metaphysical Emergence: Weak and Strong
Publisher: unpublished stable ms.
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Complex Systems
Specific Sciences > Chemistry
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Specific Sciences > Physics
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
General Issues > Structure of Theories
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/10220

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