The Constraint Interpretation of Physical Emergence

  • James BlachowiczEmail author


I develop a variant of the constraint interpretation of the emergence of purely physical (non-biological) entities, focusing on the principle of the non-derivability of actual physical states from possible physical states (physical laws) alone. While this is a necessary condition for any account of emergence, it is not sufficient, for it becomes trivial if not extended to types of constraint that specifically constitute physical entities, namely, those that individuate and differentiate them. Because physical organizations with these features are in fact interdependent sets of such constraints, and because such constraints on physical laws cannot themselves be derived from physical laws, physical organization is emergent. These two complementary types of constraint are components of a complete non-reductive physicalism, comprising a non-reductive materialism and a non-reductive formalism.


Boundary conditions Constraint Emergence Non-reductive physicalism Reductionism 



I am grateful to the two anonymous reviewers of this paper for their detailed comments. The result is a significantly improved version of the original.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentLoyola University ChicagoChicagoUSA

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