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Durham University

Durham Emergence Project


Glasgow Emergence Project


Fiona Macpherson

Stephan Leuenberger

Umut Baysan

Neil McDonnell

Project Description

This project made progress in understanding the different ways that we might characterise the idea of strong emergence, and in understanding what the causal status of emergent entities or systems might be.

Tackling the first issue, Macpherson led a reading group studying key statements of the notion of strong emergence over the past, discussing and contrasting the various alternative characterisations. They focused on the nature of the relation between the emergent entity, and the base upon which it depended. Members of the project presented their work at the Emergence and Grounding conference that was organised through the project (see twitter #emgconf), and produced papers on this topic.

Part of the philosophical interest in emergence is that the emergent entities would seem to have unique causal and explanatory powers: they could help us understand the idea of minds, or complex biological systems better. Macpherson considered the implications for theories of mind, whilst McDonnell sought to position this idea in relation to existing causal theories. McDonnell’s work targeted the notion of causal proportionality: roughly, the idea that we go wrong when we over-specify the causal conditions.

For the University of Glasgow page on this subproject, see


Baysan and McDonnell (supervised by Macpherson) organised the Emergence and Grounding Conference on 25 & 26 May 2015.

  • Speakers: David Chalmers (ANU/NYU), Jessica Wilson (Toronto), Timothy O’Connor (Indiana), Paul Noordhof (York), Stephan Leunberger (Glasgow), Umut Baysan (Glasgow), and Neil McDonnell (Glasgow).


• McDonnell, N. (2016) “Events and Their Counterparts”. Philosophical Studies

• McDonnell, N. (2016) “The Deviance in Deviant Causal Chains”. Thought

• Baysan, U. (2016) "An Argument for Power Inheritance". The Philosophical Quarterly.

• Baysan, U. (2015). “Realization Relations in Metaphysics”. Minds and Machines

• Baysan, U. (2015) “Realization”. Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy. Oxford University Press

• Baysan, U. (2015) “Review of Qualia and Mental Causation in a Physical World”. The Philosophical Quarterly.


Umut Baysan:

  • “Power Inheritism”, 1st Annual Conference of the Society for the Metaphysics of Science, Rutgers, September 2015

  • “Emergentism and Meta-Ontology”, 89th Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association, Warwick, July 2015.

  • “Strong Emergence: Causal Novelty or Fundamentality”, Workshop, Durham, June 2015

  • “Is Emergence a Variety of Dependence?”, Emergence and Grounding Conference, Glasgow, May 2015

  • “How to Save Mental Causation”, Bogazici University Philosophy Colloquium, April 2015

Neil McDonnell:

  • “Difference Making and Emergence”, Emergence and Grounding Conference, Glasgow, May 2015

  • “Exclusion and Proportion”, Philosophy Senior Seminar, Glasgow, April 2015

  • “Transitivity and Proportion: When Causes Go Bad”, Philosophy Society Seminar, Glasgow, March 2015

  • “Emergence and Panpsychism: Response to John Heil”, Philosophy-Psychology Joint Seminar, Glasgow, February 2015

Stephan Leuenberger:

  • “Two Notions of Fundamentality”, Grounding Workshop, Edinburgh, June 2015

  • “Supervenience without Reduction Redux”, One Day Workshop, Durham, June 2015

  • “Emergence and Failures of Supplementation”, Emergence and Grounding Conference, Glasgow, May 2015