Strong Emergence and Freedom: Comments on Stephan

Max Kistler

in Emergence in Mind

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

Series: Mind Association Occasional Series

Strong Emergence and Freedom: Comments on Stephan

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This chapter makes three critical comments on A. Stephan's chapter ‘An Emergentist's Perspective on the Problem of Free Will’ and a constructive suggestion for a compatibilist position making use of emergent properties. First, Stephan's ‘horizontal emergence’ is not synchronic and his ‘vertical reduction’ requires three steps, not two: indeed, finding a role filler is different from giving a mechanistic explanation of this role filler. Second, unpredictability except by simulation is neither necessary nor sufficient for diachronic structure emergence. Third, Singer's thesis that some part /p/ of the process leading to a free action is conscious, in the sense that /p/ causes a conscious state /m/, is incompatible with the thesis that /m/ is identical with, or supervenes on, /p/, because identity and supervenience are non‐causal relations. Finally, a compatibilist position is sketched according to which our actions are determined by psychological laws at the level of strongly emergent mental properties.

Keywords: emergence; freedom; free will; determination; compatibilism; reduction; synchronic; diachronic; consciousness

Chapter.  4397 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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