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Durham Emergence Project


Is there a coherent and plausible approach to strong emergence in terms of individuation?


Peter Wyss

Project Description

The leading idea of my project is that Individuation and kind-identity is a key definiens of strong (ontological) emergence. Thinking in terms of identity and individuation is at the core of an integrated and general approach to emergence, which is also firmly grounded in metaphysics.

The central goal of my project is hence to develop an affirmative answer to the porject question, and to give a coherent presentation and defence. The project relates to the first foundational question of the Durham Emergence Project, namely, how strong emergence should be understood.

My work also relates to the cluster of other ideas often associated with the proper forumulation of emergence: so-called ‘downward causation’, ontological levels, and the irreducibility of emergents.

Two motivations fuel the project. First, while a multitude of emergentisms clearly indicate the versatility and appeal of the notion, the current debate occasionally appears fragmented. A unifying (and conciliatory) approach to emergence adds focus and coherence. Secondly, definitions of emergence typically tend to be negative, and include, e.g., irreducibility and unpredictability. My project aims to substantiate a (more) positive characterisation.