Explanation, Emergence, and Causality: Comments on Crane

Michele Di Francesco

in Emergence in Mind

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199583621
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723483 | DOI:

Series: Mind Association Occasional Series

Explanation, Emergence, and Causality: Comments on Crane

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Tim Crane's ‘Cosmic Hermeneutics vs. Emergence: The Challenge of the Explanatory Gap’ claims that non‐reductive physicalism must either close the explanatory gap, addressing the challenge famously posed by Levine's argument, or become identical to emergentism. Since no way to close the gap is available, the result is that there can be no interesting philosophical position intermediate between physicalism and emergentism. This chapter argues that if we look at the relation between physicalism and emergentism from the vantage point of reduction, Crane's analysis is rather persuasive. However, if we switch from reduction to causality, its conclusions appear more disputable. In particular, if we shift from ‘novelty and explanation’ to ‘novelty and causality’ as key features of emergent properties, we may introduce a distinction between two kinds of emergentism (moderate and radical) based on their attitude towards the causal inheritance principle. If the causal inheritance principle is accepted (some versions of) moderate emergentism may be considered as non‐trivial forms of non‐reductive physicalism.

Keywords: physicalism; emergentism; explanatory gap; causality; reduction; non‐reductive physicalism

Chapter.  3362 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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