“Supervenient and Yet Not Deducible”: Is There a Coherent Concept of Ontological Emergence?

Jaegwon Kim

in Essays in the Metaphysics of Mind

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199585878
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595349 | DOI:
“Supervenient and Yet Not Deducible”: Is There a Coherent Concept of Ontological Emergence?

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“ ‘Supervenient and Yet Not Deducible’: Is There a Coherent Concept of Ontological Emergence?” raises what seems like a deep and fundamental difficulty with the concept of emergence. It is common to distinguish ontological (or metaphysical) emergence from epistemological emergence. A property is epistemologically emergent when it is in some sense surprising and unexpected, and not predictable from knowledge of its basal conditions. In contrast, a property is ontologically emergent when it is an objectively novel phenomenon, over and beyond the base‐level conditions from which it arises. Early British emergentists, most notably C.D. Broad, characterized emergent properties as those that are supervenient on their basal conditions and yet not deducible from them. This conception of emergence is widely shared by both the friends and critics of emergentism. This paper asks how deducibility, or nondeducibility, is to be understood, and reaches the provisional conclusion that an objective, nonepistemic construal of deducibility amounts to implication, and thus to supervenience. This would render the classic characterization of emergence incoherent, or worse, for “supervenient and yet not deducible” threatens to turn into “supervenient and yet not supervenient.”

Keywords: emergence; ontological emergence; metaphysical emergence; strong emergence; weak emergence; epistemological emergence; deduction; deducibility; mathematical archangel

Chapter.  8168 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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