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EmergenceContemporary Readings in Philosophy and Science$
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Mark A. Bedau and Paul Humphreys

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780262026215

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262026215.001.0001

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Aggregativity: Reductive Heuristics for Finding Emergence

Aggregativity: Reductive Heuristics for Finding Emergence

(p.99) 5 Aggregativity: Reductive Heuristics for Finding Emergence

William C. Wimsatt

The MIT Press

This chapter discusses the reductionist’s notion of emergence; a traditional philosophical reductionist might suppose that emergence will be a thing of the past since reductionistic explanations for phenomena demonstrate that they are not emergent. Claims of emergence, through time, will eventually be seen as nothing more than temporary confessions of ignorance. However, one need not be a reductionist in the discussion of emergence. Philosophers of the special sciences who anchor emergence in failures of reduction do not see it as a disease to be cured by reductionistic progress. Emergence involves some kind of organizational interdependence of diverse parts, but there are many possible forms of such interaction, and no clear way to classify them. Being an aggregate has a straightforward revealing and compact analysis. Forms of emergence can then be classified and analyzed systematically by looking at how these conditions may fail.

Keywords:   emergence, reductionist, confessions of ignorance, special sciences, reductionistic progress, organizational interdependence, aggregate

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