Antonella Corradini is a philosopher at the Catholic University of Milan, where she has organized conferences on "Analytic Philosophy without Naturalism" (2003). "Emergence in Science and Philosophy" (2007), and "Quantum Physics and the Philosophy of Mind" (2013). She is co-editor of books on analytic philosophy, psycho-physical dualism, and emergence. Corradini describes solving the logical conflict between "bottom-up" causation (the basis for all "reduction" of higher level properties to the base physical level of atoms and molecules) and the assumed "downward causation" of the emergent properties as some kind of "magic."
Emergent phenomena are said to arise out of and be sustained by more basic phenomena, while at the same time exerting a 'top-down' control, constraint or some other sort of influence upon those very sustaining processes. To some critics, this has the air of magic, as it seems to suggest a kind of circular causality. (See Kim, 1999, for an argument to this conclusion.) Other critics deem the concept of emergence to be objectionably anti-naturalistic, requiring the onset at particular historical junctures of novel properties and behavior that are discontinuous with the world's fundamental dynamics.Her systematic analysis of the British Emergentists’ philosophy (notably Samuel Alexander, C. Lloyd Morgan, and C. D. Broad) concludes that the British Emergentists were monists. She proposes a dualist reinterpreation of emergence and develops a specific version of Emergence as a Dualism. She examines Jaegwon Kim's criticism of Emergentism and Non-reductive Physicalism and finds that Kim mistakenly assimilates these two. Along with Kim, she asks whether downward causation is compatible with "bottom-up" determination and accepts Kim's argument that downward causation (and thus emergence) is incompatible with physicalism. However, her agreement with Kim’s conclusions has the aim of differentiating between emergentism and non-reductive physicalism and of giving up physicalism. In emergentism there are ideas “that generate some tension within emergentism understood as a form of monism, but it can become wholly coherent by disavowing monism itself and by putting emergentism into a dualistic framework”. Corradini says that:
In non-reductive physicalism downward causation is a derivative concept. In fact, Kim obtains it by showing that it is implied by same-level causation, which, in its turn, is implied by upward causation. But the implication from same-level causation to downward causation holds only under the condition that upward determination holds. Therefore, non-reductive physicalism is committed to downward causation insofar as it is a form of physicalism. Kim applies the same scheme to emergentism, but in this case his strategy is not justified, since for emergentists downward causation is not a derivative notion, but a primitive one, which lies at the very heart of their view. It is the utmost expression of the emergentistic thesis of the irreducibility of higher-level properties, thus it cannot be thought as disjointed from the non-explainability thesis. The fact that explainability of the mental by the physical does not hold for emergentism undermines any project - like Kim's - to give a physicalistic interpretation of downward causation.Corradini proposes a dualistic version of emergence of mind from the body which does not exclude substance dualism. She does not deny that the mind remains functionally dependent on the body, but she gives the mind ontological independence, with causal powers that are not determined by the lower biophysical and physical layers from which it emerges. Corradini claims that emergentism cannot coherently be supported without admitting that the underlying basis be only a necessary condition of the mental dimension, but not a sufficient one. In order to allow the mental to emerge from its biological basis, a non-material dimension of reality is needed, which is endowed with ontological independence and exists from the very beginning of the emergent process. It follows from this that, if emergentists want to realize their non-reductionistic purposes, emergence must be understood as a dualistic relation. Corradini sees the mind as non-material, ontologically independent of the brain from which it emerged. This emergence is dualistic beyond "property dualism." She calls it a distinctive kind of substance dualism.
What a developmental psychologist observes concerning the developmental history of a child is the appearance at a certain stage of her development of mental capabilities, whose complexity and sophistication gradually increase, together with the concomitant maturing of the physical structure. This empirical state of affairs — it seems to me — may be interpreted equally well both by an "emergent composite view" and by an emergent substance dualistic view of the human being. In other words, accordance with empirical evidence is not the benchmark on whose basis a confrontation among both positions has to take place. The merits of my variant of emergent dualism are to be found first of all at the conceptual level. My proposal explains the emergence of the mental substance without resorting to any creation ex nihilo, and also accounts for its ontological independence from the biological structure. In so doing, it guarantees that the mental substance has autonomous emergent powers that it can exert in a downward fashion on the body. Moreover, due to the mind's functional dependence on the body, my proposal, unlike Cartesian dualism, accounts for the existence of correlations of all mental states with brain states. As we know, neuroscientific research attests the detailed dependence of mental functions on brain functions and the existence of a systematic network of mind-brain correlations, so that at this stage of neuroscientific advancement no dualistic theory can afford to be ill at ease with such empirical data. Other forms of emergent substance dualism meet the criterion of accounting for mind-body correlations. I submit that, together with these, my proposal deserves a closer look.Corradini also analyzes some other contemporary forms of emergentism which can be potentially understood as dualistic versions (e.g., Timothy O’Connor, Paul Humphreys, and William Hasker). E. Jonathan Lowe (Corradini's co-editor of Analytic Philosophy and Psycho-physical Dualism Today) has developed a related proposal for an interactionist non-Cartesian substance dualism. With his colleague Storrs McCall, Lowe developed a two-stage model of free will.