The Hidden Battles over Emergence

Carl Gillett

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science

Published in print April 2008 | ISBN: 9780199543656
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

The Hidden Battles over Emergence


This article illuminates the practical necessity of a metaphysics of science in the first section by highlighting the scientific findings that are replete with ontological concepts and by providing a ‘minimal framework’ in the metaphysics of science to articulate these concepts. The second section examines how writers on ‘emergence’ in science-and-religion, as well as in other areas, have all been reacting to the challenge of ontological reductionism by offering competing accounts in the metaphysics of sciences. The third section shows that the reductionist's metaphysical argument is actually invalid, and that the third type of emergence is possible after all. The article also notes the resources that recent accounts of ‘emergence’ provide for theologically important topics such as the nature of persons or divine action.

Keywords: metaphysics; science; ontological reductionism; emergence; divine action

Article.  8187 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religion and Science

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