, Volume 124, Issue 3, pp 297–322 | Cite as

Physical Emergence, Diachronic And Synchronic

  • Alexander Rueger


This paper explicates two notions of emergencewhich are based on two ways of distinguishinglevels of properties for dynamical systems.Once the levels are defined, the strategies ofcharacterizing the relation of higher level to lower levelproperties as diachronic and synchronic emergenceare the same. In each case, the higher level properties aresaid to be emergent if they are ‘novel’ or ‘irreducible’ with respect to the lower level properties. Novelty andirreducibility are given precise meanings in terms of the effectsthat the change of a bifurcation or perturbation parameterin the system has. (The same strategy can be applied to otherways of separating levels of properties, like themicro/macro distinction.)

The notions of emergence developed here are notions of emergencein a weak sense: the higher level emergent properties wecapture are always structural properties (or are realized insuch properties), that is, they are defined in terms of the lowerlevel properties and their relations. Diachronic and synchronicemergent properties are distinctions within thecategory of structural properties.


Structural Property Emergent Property Level Property Weak Sense Precise Meaning 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alexander, S.: 1920, Space, Time, and Deity, Vol. 2, Macmillan, London.Google Scholar
  2. Arnold, V. I.: 1983, GeometricalMethods in the Theory of Ordinary Differential Equations, Springer, New York.Google Scholar
  3. Batterman, R.W.: 1995, 'Theories between Theories', Synthese 103, 171–201.Google Scholar
  4. Batterman, R.W.: 1997, '“Into a Mist”: Asymptotic Theories on a Caustic', Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 28, 395–413.Google Scholar
  5. Batterman, R.W.: forthcoming, 'Multiple Realizability and Universality', British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.Google Scholar
  6. Bechtel, W. and R. C. Richardson: 1992, 'Emergent Phenomena and Complex Systems', in A Beckermann et al. (eds), Emergence or Reduction? De Gruyer, Berlin, pp. 257–88.Google Scholar
  7. Bedau, M. A.: 1997, 'Weak Emergence', Philosophical Perspectives 11, 375–99.Google Scholar
  8. Bensoussan, A. et al.: 1978, Asymptotic Analysis for Periodic Structures, North-Holland, Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  9. Berry, M.: 1994, 'Asymptotics, Singularities and the Reduction of Theories', in D. Prawitz et al. (eds), Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science, Vol. IX, Elsevier, New York, pp. 597–607.Google Scholar
  10. Cartwright, N.: 1989, Nature's Capacities and Their Measurement, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  11. Chalmers, D.: 1996, The Conscious Mind, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  12. Feigl, H.: 1958, 'The “Mental” and the “Physical”', in H. Feigl et al. (eds), Minnesota Studies 2, 370–497.Google Scholar
  13. Grasman, J.: 1987, Asymptotic Methods for Relaxation Oscillations and Applications, Springer, New York.Google Scholar
  14. Guckenheimer, J. and P. Holmes: 1983, Nonlinear Oscillators, Dynamical Systems, and Bifurcations of Vector Fields, Springer, New York.Google Scholar
  15. Hinch, E. J.: 1991, Perturbation Methods, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  16. Humphreys, P.: 1996a, 'Emergence, not Supervenience', PSA 1996, Vol. II (=Philosophy of Science 64 (1997), Supplement), S337–S345.Google Scholar
  17. Humphreys, P.: 1996b, 'Aspects of Emergence', Philosophical Topics 24, 53–70.Google Scholar
  18. Humphreys, P.: 1997, 'How Properties Emerge', Philosophy of Science 64, 1–17.Google Scholar
  19. Khibnik, A. I. et al.: 1998, 'Phase Model Analysis of Two Lasers with Injected Field', Physica D 111, 295–310.Google Scholar
  20. Kim, J.: 1992, 'Multiple Realization and the Metaphysics of Reduction', Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52, 1–26.Google Scholar
  21. Kim, J.: 1998, Mind in a Physical World, MIT Press, Cambridge. MA.Google Scholar
  22. Kim, J.: 1999, 'Making Sense of Emergence', Philosophical Studies 95, 3–36.Google Scholar
  23. Liu, C.: 1998, 'Explaining the Emergence of Cooperative Phenomena', PSA 1998. Vol. I (=Philosophy of Science 66 (1999), Supplement), S92–S106.Google Scholar
  24. McLaughlin, B.: 1992, 'The Rise and Fall of British Emergentism', in A. Beckermann et al. (eds), Emergence or Reduction? De Gruyter, Berlin, pp. 49-93.Google Scholar
  25. Mishchenko, E. F. and N. Kh. Rozov: 1980, Differential Equations with Small Parameters and Relaxation Oscillations, Plenum Press, New York.Google Scholar
  26. Newman, D. V.: 1996, 'Emergence and Strange Attractors', Philosophy of Science 63, 245–61.Google Scholar
  27. Nickles, T.: 1973, 'Two Concepts of Intertheoretic Reduction', Journal of Philosophy 70, 181–201.Google Scholar
  28. O'Connor, T.: 1994, 'Emergent Properties', American Philosophical Quarterly 31, 91–104.Google Scholar
  29. Primas, H.: 1983, Chemistry, Quantum Mechanics and Reductionism, Springer, Berlin.Google Scholar
  30. Putnam, H.: 1975, 'Philosophy and our Mental Life', in H. Putnam, Mind, Language, and Reality, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 291–303.Google Scholar
  31. Rueger, A.: manuscript, 'Robust Supervenience and Emergence'.Google Scholar
  32. Rueger, A. and W. D. Sharp: 1998, 'Metaphysical Presuppositions of Scientific Practice: Atomism vs. Wholism', Canadian Journal of Philosophy 28, 1–20.Google Scholar
  33. Saunders, P. T.: 1980, An Introduction to Catastrophe Theory, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  34. Stephan, A.: 1992, 'Emergence - A Systematic View on its Historical Facets, in A. Beckermann et al. (eds), Emergence or Reduction? De Gruyter, Berlin, pp. 25–48.Google Scholar
  35. Tabor, M.: 1989, Chaos and Integrability in Nonlinear Dynamics, John Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  36. Wilson, M.: 1985, ‘What is This Thing Called “Pain”?’ Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 66, 227–67.Google Scholar
  37. Wilson, M.: 1993, 'Honorable Intensions', in S. J. Wagner et al. (eds), Naturalism: A Critical Appraisal, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, pp. 53-94.Google Scholar
  38. Wimsatt, W.: 1976, 'Reductionism, Levels of Organization, and the Mind-Body Problem', in G. G. Globus et al. (eds), Consciousness and the Brain, Plenum Press, New York, pp. 205-67.Google Scholar
  39. Wimsatt, W.: 1996, 'Aggregativity: Reductive Heuristics for Finding Emergence', PSA 1996, Vol. II (=Philosophy of Science 64 (1997), Supplement), S372–S384.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander Rueger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

Personalised recommendations