Projecto em Parceria Nacional

EITNS – Emergência nas Ciências Naturais: Para um Novo Paradigma

EITNS - Emergence in the Natural Sciences: Towards a New Paradigm

Investigador Principal
David Yates \ Centro de Filosofia da Universidade de Lisboa

Co-Investigador Principal
Gil Santos \ GI2 - Filosofia das Ciências Naturais

2019 - 2021


Grupo(s) de Investigação: GI2 - Filosofia das Ciências Naturais

Descrição do Projecto

The traditional debate between emergentists and reductionists in the natural sciences takes the form of a dilemma. Reductionists claim that complex entities and processes (such as molecules, organisms, and persons) are nothing but mechanisms whose natures are fully grounded in and explained by their physical component parts and structure. Anti-reductionists respond that such entities are genuinely novel in relation to their parts, and so must have emergent natures that are not physically grounded. Both sides assume a mechanistic explanatory paradigm, according to which the only way to explain the nature of a higher-level entity is to treat it as a mechanism and then explain how it works by means of its lower-level parts. A methodological consequence of this paradigm is that when a complex entity or process resists mechanistic reduction, an emergentist theory that abandons lower-level explanation altogether is typically posited. But this is a false dilemma: recent work in the logic and metaphysics of grounding reveals a plurality of anti-reductionist grounding relations that go beyond the mechanistic paradigm, and which may be suitable for understanding the true nature of complex entities and processes across the natural sciences.

The team will develop new anti-reductionist inter-level grounding models as alternatives to both mechanistic reduction and emergence, and apply them to a range of scientific case studies that have been suggested as cases of emergence due to failures of mechanistic reduction. Their aim is to develop new conceptual frameworks for thinking about the novelty of complex entities across a broad range of scientific domains. There are many cases in the sciences of entities or processes that resist mechanistic reduction, from ferromagnetism to molecular structure; from the organism to the human mind and its capacity for consciousness and free choice. But are these genuine cases of emergence, in which complex entities have truly emergent natures that are not physically grounded, or simply cases in which the mechanistic paradigm is inappropriate, and alternative grounding frameworks are needed to explain their novel powers and qualities? This project brings together researchers specialising in the metaphysics of the natural sciences, with a broad range of scientific specializations including physics, chemistry, biology and psychology, based both in Portugal and the United Kingdom. Joined by a team of international consultants in both philosophy and the sciences, they will conduct interdisciplinary research that will lead to new ways of thinking about why our world is divided into levels, and how it is that the natures of higher-level entities can transcend the natures of their lower-level parts. Through this research, they will reinvigorate the traditional debate, reassess the evidence for and against ontological emergence, and cast new light on the natures of a wide range of complex phenomena, from molecules to conscious agents.

Instituição de Acolhimento

Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa (FLUL)

Instituições Participantes



Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT): PTDC/FER-HFC/30665/2017
Financiamento atribuído: 223.615 EUR

Notícias no Site do CFCUL
EITNS Seminar no canal YouTube do CFCUL
EITNS - Emergence in the Natural Sciences: Towards a new Paradigm. Um projecto em parceria nacional