The Pursuit of Neutrality in the Metaphysics of Emergence

Analysis 82 (1):159-169 (2022)
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What marks emergence as a metaphysically interesting idea is that many macro-level entities and their properties are ontologically and causally autonomous in relation to the micro-level entities and properties they depend on---or so argues Jessica Wilson in Metaphysical Emergence (2021). To do so, she adopts a “metaphysically highly neutral” (p. 32) approach to questions about powers, causation, properties, and laws. That is, while explaining what emergence is and arguing that there is indeed emergence in the natural world, she doesn’t restrict her analyses and arguments to any specific metaphysical accounts of these concepts, and she doesn’t commit to any controversial theses about them. In this article, I assess Wilson’s project against this methodological ideal of metaphysical neutrality.

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Umut Baysan
University of Oxford


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