The perspectival nature of emergence Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Taylor, Elanor
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy
  • I examine various attempts to solve this problem of “collapsing emergence” by imposing principled restrictions on the admissible micro-level properties underlying cases of emergence. I argue that such attempts fail and that to solve the problem we must appeal to the connection between emergence and explanation. I argue that we use the concept of emergence to track the availability (or not) of scientific explanations, and that what qualifies as an available explanation differs across different “perspectives”, where a “perspective” is the point of view of a particular observer. This connection between emergence and explanation provides a solution to the collapse problem because, I argue, collapse-inducing properties fail to provide resources for the explanations that emergence tracks, and so cannot render a macro-level property non-emergent. Embracing this solution (and hence the possibility of emergence) involves embracing the idea that emergence is relative to a perspective. Understanding emergence as relative to a perspective is contrary to some popular conceptions of emergence, which take emergence to be a metaphysical, perspective-independent phenomenon. I argue that such conceptions are misguided and that emergence can play a major role in philosophical and scientific enquiry into relationships between properties of parts and wholes and between different levels in nature, but it can do so only as a perspectival phenomenon, rather than a metaphysical one.
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  • In Copyright
  • Lange, Marc
  • Doctor of Philosophy
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  • 2012

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