Jessica M. Wilson

May 20, 2022

Metaphysical Emergence

Oxford University Press 2021

Is a tree nothing but its material makeup, or does reality include trees above and beyond what they are made of? How about consciousness – nothing but neural activity, or something over and above it? Metaphysical emergence is a leading nonreductive theory of how we can be committed to a fully material world without accepting that everything reduces to fundamental physics. In Metaphysical Emergence (Oxford UP 2021), Jessica Wilson synthesizes scholarship on the idea of emergence and divides the existing proposals into two basic schemas: Strong Emergence and Weak Emergence. Wilson, a professor of philosophy at University of Toronto and leading theorist of emergence, elaborates the differences between the forms and the main objections to each form. She also stakes out controversial positions regarding the existence of phenomena that satisfy each form: for example, on her view current evidence does not support the ideas that dynamically self-organizing complex systems or consciousness are Strongly emergent. Wilson’s book promises to be a landmark in the theoretical literature on emergence and its applications.

Carrie Figdor is professor of philosophy at the University of Iowa.

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