Authored by: Paul Noordhof

The Routledge Handbook of Emergence

Print publication date:  March  2019
Online publication date:  March  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138925083
eBook ISBN: 9781315675213
Adobe ISBN:


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Dependence is the most general notion under which a host of familiar metaphysical relations between entities – causation, supervenience, grounding, realisation, etc. – fall. In the first section of this chapter, I will offer some preliminary clarifications to outline the territory in a little more detail. Some years back, this would have primarily involved differentiating kinds of dependence in terms of the strength of the modal operators used and the other details of an analysis deploying them. Now, there has been a proliferation of non-purely modal accounts of dependence. The second section identifies the various reasons that have been offered for this proliferation. The third section discusses a notion of ontological dependence and grounding, each of which draws on an appeal to the essence of the depending, or depended upon, entities. In spite of their popularity, we will see that such notions are of little assistance in capturing a central case of interest to us: the proper understanding of emergence. In the light of this, the fourth section defends a purely modal treatment of some of the problem cases outlined in the first section and also discusses a non-modal notion of construction. I close with a hypothesis that the combination of three features, a non-dependence account of fundamentality, various notions of construction and purely modal properties, remove the motivation for appeal to an independent account of grounding in this, and perhaps any, area.

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