, Volume 166, Issue 3, pp 547–591

The interactivist model


DOI: 10.1007/s11229-008-9375-x

Cite this article as:
Bickhard, M.H. Synthese (2009) 166: 547. doi:10.1007/s11229-008-9375-x


A shift from a metaphysical framework of substance to one of process enables an integrated account of the emergence of normative phenomena. I show how substance assumptions block genuine ontological emergence, especially the emergence of normativity, and how a process framework permits a thermodynamic-based account of normative emergence. The focus is on two foundational forms of normativity, that of normative function and of representation as emergent in a particular kind of function. This process model of representation, called interactivism, compels changes in many related domains. The discussion ends with brief attention to three domains in which changes are induced by the representational model: perception, learning, and language.


InteractivismSubstanceProcessEmergenceNormativityHumeKimNormative functionRepresentationMillikanDretskeFodorCumminsPerceptionLearningEvolutionary epistemologyLanguageSocial ontology

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lehigh UniversityBethlehemUSA