Philosophy TV Managing Editors

David Killoren (Koç University, Turkey)

Jonathan Lang (Wisconsin Institute for Sleep and Consciousness, University of Wisconsin-Madison)


Paul Humphreys and John Symons

Paul Humphreys (left) and John Symons (right) on emergence.

A property is said to be emergent if it arises from but is not reducible to some fundamental property (or set of properties). There is a wide range of properties that might conceivably be emergent; consciousness is the textbook example, which might explain why philosophers of mind are responsible for some of the most fully developed treatments of emergence. In this episode, after discussing some history of the concept of emergence, Humphreys and Symons wrangle over whether emergence is definable (10:01), discuss ways in which debates over emergence have spread beyond the philosophy of mind (15:12), and speculate about where those debates might lead in the future (41:01).

Related works

by Humphreys:
“Synchronic and Diachronic Emergence” (2008)
with Mark Bedau (eds.): Emergence: Contemporary Readings in Philosophy and Science (2008)
Extending Ourselves: Computational Science, Empiricism, and Scientific Method (2007)

by Symons:
with Fabio Boschetti: “Novel Properties Generated By Interacting Computational Systems” (2011)
“Computational Models of Emergent Properties” (2008)
“The Meta-Problem of Change” (2009)