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Emergence, Reduction and Supervenience: a Varied Landscape

Butterfield, Jeremy (2010) Emergence, Reduction and Supervenience: a Varied Landscape. [Preprint]

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    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 (each shared with some other authors) are: (i): I defend the traditional Nagelian conception of reduction (Section 3}); (ii): I deny that the multiple realizability argument causes trouble for reductions, or ``reductionism'' (Section 4); (iii): I stress the collapse of supervenience into deduction via Beth's theorem (Section 5.1); (iv): I adapt some examples already in the literature to show supervenience without emergence and vice versa (Section 5.2).

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    Item Type: Preprint
    Additional Information: Forthcoming in Foundations of Physics
    Keywords: Emergence, reduction, supervenience, multiple realizability, Beth's theorem, functional definition, infinitary definition
    Subjects: General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
    General Issues > Explanation
    Specific Sciences > Physics
    Depositing User: Jeremy Butterfield
    Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2010
    Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 11:20
    Item ID: 5549

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