Emergence, largely ignored just thirty years ago, has become one of the liveliest areas of research in both philosophy and science. Fueled by advances in complexity theory, artificial life, physics, psychology, sociology, and biology and by the parallel development of new conceptual tools in philosophy, the idea of emergence offers a way to understand a wide variety of complex phenomena in ways that are intriguingly different from more traditional approaches. This reader collects for the first time in one easily accessible place classic writings on emergence from contemporary philosophy and science. The chapters, by such prominent scholars as John Searle, Stephen Weinberg, William Wimsatt, Thomas Schelling, Jaegwon Kim, Robert Laughlin, Daniel Dennett, Herbert Simon, Stephen Wolfram, Jerry Fodor, Philip Anderson, and David Chalmers, cover the major approaches to emergence. Each of the three sections ("Philosophical Perspectives," "Scientific Perspectives," and "Background and Polemics") begins with an introduction putting the chapters into context and posing key questions for further exploration. A bibliography lists more specialized material, and an associated website (http://mitpress.mit.edu/emergence) links to downloadable software and to other sites and publications about emergence.
Contributors: P. W. Anderson, Andrew Assad, Nils A. Baas, Mark A. Bedau, Mathieu S. Capcarrère, David Chalmers, James P. Crutchfield, Daniel C. Dennett, J. Doyne Farmer, Jerry Fodor, Carl Hempel, Paul Humphreys, Jaegwon Kim, Robert B. Laughlin, Bernd Mayer, Brian P. McLaughlin, Ernest Nagel, Martin Nillson, Paul Oppenheim, Norman H. Packard, David Pines, Steen Rasmussen, Edmund M. A. Ronald, Thomas Schelling, John Searle, Robert S. Shaw, Herbert Simon, Moshe Sipper, Stephen Weinberg, William Wimsatt, and Stephen Wolfram
About the Editors
Mark A. Bedau is Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at Reed College, Adjunct Professor of Systems Science at Portland State University, and Editor-in-Chief of the MIT Press journal Artificial Life.
Paul Humphreys is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Virginia.
"This is a very good and useful book—as more and more scientists pushtoward the meanings of life and of mind they will appreciate the articlespresented here, and the introductory material that helps put them intocontext."
—Charles Taylor, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, UCLA
"Emergence is a topic that is multi-faceted and controversial, both in science and philosophy. To help one get to grips with the various issues, this selection of some of the most important articles written in the last few decades is invaluable: not least through the editors' introductions to the book's different parts, and their annotated bibliography."
—Jeremy Butterfield, Senior Research Fellow, Trinity College, University of Cambridge
"Emergence is paradoxically the most important, yet least understood notion in the sciences of complexity. This book is an excellent collection of the best recent philosophical and scientific thinking on this tantalizing and elusive topic. A must-read for anyone interested in how modern science can—and must—go beyond reductionism."
Melanie Mitchell, Department of Computer Science, Portland State University