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The Strong Emergence of Molecular Structure

Seifert, Vanessa (2020) The Strong Emergence of Molecular Structure. [Preprint]

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Abstract

One of the most plausible and widely discussed examples of strong emergence is molecular structure. The only detailed account of it, which has been very influential, is due to Robin Hendry and is formulated in terms of downward causation. This paper explains Hendry’s account of the strong emergence of molecular structure and argues that it is coherent only if one assumes a diachronic reflexive notion of downward causation. However, in the context of this notion of downward causation, the strong emergence of molecular structure faces three challenges that have not been met and which have so far remained unnoticed. First, the putative empirical evidence presented for the strong emergence of molecular structure equally undermines supervenience, which is one of the main tenets of strong emergence. Secondly, it is ambiguous how the assumption of determinate nuclear positions is invoked for the support of strong emergence, as the role of this assumption in Hendry’s argument can be interpreted in more than one way. Lastly, there are understandings of causation which render the postulation of a downward causal relation between a molecule’s structure and its quantum mechanical entities, untenable.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Seifert, Vanessa
Keywords: Strong Emergence, Molecular Structure, Downward Causation
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Chemistry
General Issues > Philosophers of Science
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Depositing User: Dr. Vanessa A. Seifert
Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2020 03:33
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2020 03:33
Item ID: 18044
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Chemistry
General Issues > Philosophers of Science
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Date: 2020
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/18044

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