Short works

Books : reviews

Paul Humphreys.
Extending Ourselves: computational science, empiricism, and scientific method.
OUP. 2004

Mark A. Bedau, Paul Humphreys, eds.
Emergence: contemporary readings in philosophy and science.
MIT Press. 2008

Emergence, largely ignored just thirty years ago, has become one of the liveliest areas of research in both philosophy and science. Fueled by advances in complexity theory, artificial life, physics, psychology, sociology, and biology and by the parallel development of new conceptual tools in philosophy, the idea of emergence offers a way to understand a wide variety of complex phenomena in ways that are intriguingly different from more traditional approaches. This reader collects for the first time in one easily accessible place classic writings on emergence from contemporary philosophy and science. The chapters, by such prominent scholars as John Searle, Stephen Weinberg, William Wimsatt, Thomas Schelling, Jaegwon Kim, Robert Laughlin, Daniel Dennett, Herbert Simon, Stephen Wolfram, Jerry Fodor, Philip Anderson, and David Chalmers, cover the major approaches to emergence. Each of the three sections (“Philosophical Perspectives,” “Scientific Perspectives,” and “Background and Polemics”) begins with an introduction putting the chapters into context and posing key questions for further exploration. A bibliography lists more specialized material.


James P. Crutchfield. Is anything ever new? Considering emergence. 1994
James P. Crutchfield, J. Doyne Farmer, Norman H. Packard, Robert S. Shaw. Chaos. Sci. Am., 254(12), 46-58. 1986
Philip W. Anderson. More is Different. Science, 177, 393-396. 1972
Andrew M. Assad, Norman H. Packard. Emergent Colonization in an Artificial Ecology. 1992
Stephen Wolfram. Undecidability and intractability in theoretical physics. Phys.Rev.Lett 54:735-738. 1985
Daniel C. Dennett. Real patterns. The Journal of Philosophy 87. 1991
As Dennett says in the introduction, the ideas here are utterly central to his thinking. It covers the ontological status of abstract objects, including patterns, particularly those obscured by more or less noise. It moves on to patterns in the Game of Life, and a nice description of his three stances: physical (for describing the underlying cellular automaton with cells changing state), design (for describing gliders, glider guns, etc: moving patterns), and intentional (for describing what a GoL CA emulating a chess playing program is doing at the level of "wanting to play chess"). This leads to a discussion of the reality of the intentional patterns. Dennett's position is somewhere between the (implausible) extremes of Realism and Instrumentalism.
Brian P. McLaughlin. The Rise and fall of British Emergentism. From Emergence or Reduction?. 1992
Carl Hempel, Paul Oppenheim. On the idea of Emergence. From Aspects of Scientific Explanation. 1965
John R. Searle. Reductionism and the Irreducibility of Consciousness. From The Rediscovery of the Mind. 1992
Brian P. McLaughlin. Emergence and supervenience. Excerpt, Intellectica 25. 1997
William C. Wimsatt. Aggregativity: reductive heuristics for finding emergence. Philosophy of Science 644. 1997
Paul Humphreys. How properties emerge. Philosophy of Science 64. 1997
Jaegwon Kim. Making sense of Emergence. Philosophical Studies 95. 1999
Mark A. Bedau. Downward causation and autonomy in weak emergence. Principia Revista Internacional de Epistemologica 6. 2003
Thomas C. Schelling. Micromotives and macrobehaviour. Excerpt. 1978
Herbert A. Simon. Alternative views of complexity. From The Sciences of the Artificial. 1996
Robert B. Laughlin, David Pines. The theory of everything. PNAS 97. 2000
Edmund M. A. Ronald, Moshe Sipper, Mathieu S. Capcarrere. Design, Observation, Surprise! A test of emergence. Artificial Life 5. 1999
Steen Rasmussen, Nils A. Baas, Bernd Mayer, Martin Nillson. Ansatz for dynamical hierarchies. Artificial Life 7. 2001
Steven Weinberg. Newtonianism, Reductionism, and the art of Congressional testimony. Nature 330. 1987
Ernest Nagel. Teleology revisited. Excerpt. 1982
Jerry A. Fodor. Special sciences, or the disunity of science as a working hypothesis. Synthese 28. 1974
David Chalmers. Supervenience. Excerpt from The Conscious Mind. 1996
Jaegwon Kim. The nonreductivist's troubles with mental causation. From Mental Causation. 1993

Paul Humphreys.
Emergence: a philosophical account.
OUP. 2016

Interest in emergence amongst philosophers and scientists has grown in recent years, yet the concept continues to be viewed with skepticism by many. In this book, Paul Humphreys argues that many of the problems arise from a long philosophical tradition that is overly committed to synchronic reduction and has been overly focused on problems in philosophy of mind. He develops a novel account of diachronic ontological emergence called transformational emergence, shows that it is free of the problems raised against synchronic accounts, shows that there are plausible examples of transformational emergence within physics and chemistry, and argues that the central ideas fit into a well-established historical tradition of emergence that includes John Stuart Mill, G. E. Moore, and C. D. Broad. The book also provides a comprehensive assessment of current theories of emergence and so can be used as a way into what is by now a very large literature on the topic. It places theories of emergence within a plausible classification, provides criteria for emergence, and argues that there is no single unifying account of emergence. Reevaluations of related topics in metaphysics are provided, including fundamentality, physicalism, holism, methodological individualism, and multiple realizability, among others. The relations between scientific and philosophical conceptions of emergence are assessed, with examples such as self-organization, ferromagnetism, cellular automata, and nonlinear systems being discussed. Although the book is written for professional philosophers, simple and intuitively accessible examples are used to illustrate the new concepts.