The Re-Emergence of the Emergence Debate


  • Sami Pihlström University of Helsinki



This essay provides a criticai review of contemporary controversies related to the notion of emergence by discussing, among other recent views, Achim Stephan's defense of the ontological tradition of emergentist thought along the lines of C. D. Broad. Stephan's distinctions between various notions of emergence, different in strength, are useful as they clarify the state of discussion. There are, however, several unsettled problems concerning emergence. Some of these (e. g., downward causation) have been dealt with by Stephan, Kim, and others, though not entirely sausfactorily, while others (e. g., the nature of properties, the issue of realism) would require further mvestigation in this context. It is argued in particular that downward causation would not trouble emergentists, were they willing to adopt a more Kantian and/or Wittgensteinian approach. Some examples of such an option are given. Thus, the article sketches a philosophical perspective from which a radical reassessment of the emergence debate could be pursued.

Author Biography

Sami Pihlström, University of Helsinki

Ph.D., Professor de Filosofia Prática (Universidade de Jyväskylä), Docente de Filosofia Teórica (Universidade de Helsínquia)