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Durham University

Durham Emergence Project

Events


Seminar

Thursday 14th July 2016

The Institute of Advanced Study Seminar Room, Palace Green, Durham

'Describing Relationships between Levels of Emergent Reality Using the Language of Formal and Material Causation from to Aristotle and his Mediaeval Interpreters'

Dr Andrew Davison, University of Cambridge (Starbridge Lecturer in Science and Theology)


18th - 22nd April 2016

Concluding Conference

Can everything be accounted for in terms of some relatively simple entities and their interactions? Or is nature hierarchically structured, with emergent entities appearing as complexity increases? What could it mean for the physical world to be ‘causally complete’? How could putative higher-level entities interact causally in a ‘downward’ fashion? Questions such as these have been at the core of the Durham Emergence Project, an interdisciplinary research initiative funded by The John Templeton Foundation.

These overarching questions were addressed at our final conference from a variety of perspectives through panel sessions such as: Foundations of Emergence; Information; Powers; Emergence and the Mind; Scale, Topology and Matter; Realisation and Levels; Emergence in Physics.

Full details can be found here


30th September - 2nd October 2015

Workshop #4: Downwards causation in the biological and social sciences

Methodological/ontological individualism teaches that the behaviour of systems is fixed by the behaviour of the parts that make them up, by ordinary 'upwards' causal relations. This venerable and popular doctrine has never been uncontroversial, but recent work in the philosophy of science offers new challenges to it, especially in biology and in the social sciences. Mechanistic explanation is currently a central focus in philosophy of biology, a mechanism being a (usually) complicated arrangement of parts whose interactions give rise to causal relations constraining behaviour at a lower level. Or consider game theory in the study of society. Although the theory aims to explain social phenomena (e.g. socially suboptimal outcomes) by the rational behaviour of individuals, the explanations assume individual behaviour to be constrained by the rules of the game, which are features not of individuals but of the system. Are these cases of downward causation?

Full details can be found here


9th - 12th July 2015

Emergence Summer School 2015

The Durham Emergence Project held a second week-long summer school on the topic of emergence for up to twenty advanced graduate students and early-career academics.

Full details can be found here


6th - 8th July 2015

Workshop #3: Physics and Emergence

Scientists and philosophers have developed a range of different mathematical and qualitative theoretical criteria for weak and strong emergence, but their mutual relevance is not always clear. This workshop aims to develop the connections so as to bring out the scientific significance of the philosophical criteria and the philosophical significance of the scientific criteria. Discussion will focus on how mathematical and qualitative theoretical criteria for weak and strong emergence apply to specific physical systems and properties, as modelled in quantum and statistical mechanics. It will examine how these examples fit into the philosophical debate on emergence, reduction and the existence of downward causation.

Full details can be found here


16th - 18th March 2015

Workshop #2: Powers and Human Agency

This workshop explored how recent powers theories of causation affect the debate about the existence of downward causation and strong emergence. Powers theories of causation potentially offer new conceptions of what downward causation could consist in, distinctive approaches to the traditional problems of personal agency and mental causation, and new ways of challenging strongly held convictions about CCP.

Full details can be found here


15th - 17th December 2014

Workshop #1: The Completeness of Physics: Where is the Evidence?

Opposition to the existence of downward causation is closely associated with the causal completeness (or closure) of the physical (CCP). If CCP is true, then downward causation (and therefore strong emergence) is arguably precluded. But how should CCP be formulated, and what evidence is there for it?

This workshop brought together philosophers of mind, philosophers of science and physicists to review the arguments, aiming to identify the unstated assumptions that underlie current disagreements. The aim was to cut through the current impasse in the debate.

Full details can be found here


21st - 25th July 2014

Emergence Summer School 2014

The Durham Emergence Project held a week-long summer school on the topic of emergence for up to twenty advanced graduate students and early-career academics.

Full details can be found here