Emergence vs. Reduction in Chemistry

Robin Findlay Hendry

in Emergence in Mind

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

Series: Mind Association Occasional Series

Emergence vs. Reduction in Chemistry

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Let strict physicalism be any philosophical account of the ontological relationship between the subject matter of physics and other disciplines that is committed to the causal completeness of the physical. In so far as its status is seriously considered by strict physicalists, completeness is usually taken to be established by appeal to the explanatory interaction between physics and other disciplines. This chapter challenges this view, formulating an emergentist position committed to a non‐trivial form of downward causation, and so the falsity of completeness. It is argued that the explanatory interaction between quantum mechanics and chemistry supports this emergentist position at least as well as it does strict physicalism.

Keywords: completeness of physics; chemistry; quantum mechanics; emergence; downward causation

Chapter.  8060 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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