A Defense of Emergence

Axiomathes 23 (4):597-615 (2013)
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I defend a physicalistic version of ontological emergence; qualia emerge from the brain, but are physical properties nevertheless. First, I address the following questions: what are the central tenets of physicalistic ontological emergentism; what are the relationships between these tenets; what is the relationship between physicalistic ontological emergentism and non-reductive physicalism; and can there even be a physicalistic version of ontological emergentism? This discussion is merely an attempt to clarify exactly what a physicalistic version of ontological emergentism must claim, and to show that the view is at least coherent. I then defend the view from objections, for example, Kim’s (Philos Stud 95:3–36, 1999) attempt to apply a version of his exclusion argument to ontological emergentism. I conclude by offering a positive argument for the view: given certain empirical evidence concerning the organization of the brain, physicalism might have to endorse ontological emergentism to avoid epiphenomenalism



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Jason Megill
Bentley College

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