The Layered World: Metaphysical Considerations

Jaegwon Kim

in Essays in the Metaphysics of Mind

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199585878
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595349 | DOI:
The Layered World: Metaphysical Considerations

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“The Layered World: Metaphysical Considerations” examines the idea, often presupposed in philosophical discussions but seldom explicitly stated, that the objects and phenomena of the world are structured in a hierarchy of “levels”, from the bottom level of microparticles to the levels of cells and biological organisms and then to the levels of creatures with mentality and social groups of such creatures. Parallel to this “layered” picture of the natural world is an ordering of the sciences with physics as our “basic” science and the special sciences forming a ladder‐like hierarchy, from biology to psychology to the social sciences. This hierarchical model of reality is central to emergentism, and C. Lloyd Morgan's version is considered. Also considered is the reductive model of Paul Oppenheim and Hilary Putnam. Some complex metaphysical issues are seen to arise from these models, and the viability of the layered view of the world is discussed.

Keywords: layered model; level; hierarchical model; emergentism; reduction; microreduction

Chapter.  10278 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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