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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Emergence - where is the evidence? Workshop

15th December 2014, 09:00 to 17th December 2014, 17:00, Senate Suite, University College (Castle), Palace Green

The Completeness of Physics: where is the evidence?

Opposition to the existence of strong emergence is closely associated with support for principles of the causal closure, or completeness of the physical. If the physical is causally closed, or complete, then downward causation (and therefore strong emergence) is precluded. But how should such principles be formulated, and what evidence is there for them? Defenders and opponents typically disagree on whether science itself supports completeness. This workshop will review the arguments, aiming to identify the unstated assumptions that underlie current disagreements. The aim is to cut through the current impasse in the debate.

Speakers and Titles will include:

Sophie Gibb, Durham University: The causal closure principle

Carl Gillett, Northern Illinois University: The truth of the completeness of physics is an open empirical question:understanding the ongoing local battles of mutualism and fundamentalism

Robin Hendry, Durham University: Emergence vs. Reduction: where is the evidence?

Andreas Hüttemann, Cologne University: Explanation and emergence

Brian McLaughlin, Rutgers University: The completeness of physics vs. the completeness of the physical

Margaret Morrison, University of Toronto: Unification and incompleteness

David Papineau, King’s College London: Macroscopic causation and the causal completeness of physics

David Yates, University of Lisbon: Demystifying emergence

To apply please email Catherine Syson (

Please note that the application deadline is noon, Monday 8th December.

Full details are available at


Contact for more information about this event.