A new look at emergence. Or when after is different

  • Alexandre Guay
  • Olivier SartenaerEmail author
Original paper in Philosophy of Science


In this paper, we put forward a new account of emergence called “transformational emergence”. Such an account captures a variety of emergence that can be considered as being diachronic and weakly ontological. The fact that transformational emergence actually constitutes a genuine form of emergence is motivated. Besides, the account is free of traditional problems surrounding more usual, synchronic versions of emergence, and it can find a strong empirical support in a specific physical phenomenon, the fractional quantum Hall effect, which has long been touted as a paradigmatic case of emergence.


Emergence Synchronic emergence Diachronic emergence Transformational emergence Fractional quantum Hall effect Quantum electrodynamics 



We would like to thank Paul Humphreys, Philippe Huneman, Peter Verdée and two anonymous referees of this journal for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper, as well as the audiences of the Taiwan Conference on Scientific Individuation, the Paris conference Emergence in Materials, the Annual meeting of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science and the Paris conference New Trends in the Metaphysics of Science, where different parts of this paper have been presented by either one or both of its authors. Olivier Sartenaer also gratefully acknowledges the financial support from the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research (F.R.S.-FNRS).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut Supérieur de PhilosophieUniversité Catholique de Louvain, Collège MercierLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium

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