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Reduction and Emergence in Science and Philosophy

Engages with the latest scientific debates over reduction and emergence, considering a range of recent case studies
Offers new theoretical frameworks from which to understand scientific debates, providing a unified and integrated treatment of reductionism and emergentism in the sciences
Shows that ongoing scientific debates are empirically resolvable

By: Carl Gillett (Author)

400 pages, b/w illustrations

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | Sep 2016 | #232480 | ISBN-13: 9781107075351
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £64.99 $80/€73 approx

About this book

Grand debates over reduction and emergence are playing out across the sciences, but these debates have reached a stalemate, with both sides declaring victory on empirical grounds. In Reduction and Emergence in Science and Philosophy, Carl Gillett provides new theoretical frameworks with which to understand these debates, illuminating both the novel positions of scientific reductionists and emergentists and the recent empirical advances that drive these new views. Gillett also highlights the flaws in existing philosophical frameworks and reorients the discussion to reflect the new scientific advances and issues, including the nature of 'parts' and 'wholes', the character of aggregation, and thus the continuity of nature itself. Most importantly, Gillett shows how disputes about concrete scientific cases are empirically resolvable and hence how we can break the scientific stalemate. Including a detailed glossary of key terms, Reduction and Emergence in Science and Philosophy will be valuable for researchers and advanced students of the philosophy of science and metaphysics, and scientific researchers working in the area.

Advance praise:

"This impressive book by Carl Gillett offers a new perspective on an old idea, emergence, an idea that has refused to go away in spite of the many damaging criticisms over the years. It is noteworthy that the concept has found many champions among the practicing scientists working in fields such as physics, life science, cognitive neuroscience, and systems theory. Gillett's account is based in a deep knowledge of the history of emergence in both philosophy and science, presenting a formidable challenge to the critics and skeptics in the field. It should help to elevate the debates to a new level. Highly recommended to all who are interested in mind, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science."
– Jaegwon Kim, Brown University, Rhode Island

"Carl Gillett's masterful book is a comprehensive and original contribution to the philosophical discussion of emergence and reduction in science and philosophy."
– Barry Loewer, Rutgers University, New Jersey



Part I. Groundwork:
1. Scientific composition, the universe and everything: or, reductionism and emergentism in the sciences and philosophy
2. A beginning framework for scientific composition

Part II. The Roots of Reduction:
3. How to be a scientific reductionist: defending 'nothing but' claims and an ultimate scientific image
4. Understanding scientific reductionism: fundamentalist views of ontology, laws, theories, and methodology

Part III. The Fruits of Emergence:
5. The varieties of emergence: their natures, purposes and obligations
6. A whole lot more from 'nothing but': conditioned aggregation, machresis and the possibility of strong emergence
7. Understanding scientific emergentism: a mutualist nature and its interdependent levels, laws and sciences

Part IV. New Landscapes, New Horizons:
8. Our competing visions of nature and the sciences: illuminating the deeper debates and viable positions
9. Making the issues concrete: the scientific hypotheses and their empirical differences
10. The age of reduction versus the age of emergence: what has been successfully shown from the sciences (so far)


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Carl Gillett is Professor of Philosophy at Northern Illinois University. He is the editor of Physicalism and its Discontents (with Barry Loewer, Cambridge, 2001) and has published numerous articles in journals, including Analysis, The Journal of Philosophy, Mind and Language, Philosophical Psychology and Synthese.

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