Emergence, Downward Causation and its Alternatives

Critically surveying a foundational issue

Authored by: Carl Gillett

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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Contemporary scientific emergentism, defended by physicists like Philip Anderson and Robert Laughlin, neuroscientists like Walter Freeman, and many others, takes as its starting point our present scientific evidence that includes “horizontal” causal explanations/models but also ubiquitous “vertical” compositional explanations/models. 1 Crucially, the latter explanations show how almost all higher-level scientific entities, whether individuals, or their activities and properties, are composed by lower level entities.

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