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Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
Anaximander
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Augustine
J.L.Austin
A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
George Berkeley
Isaiah Berlin
Richard J. Bernstein
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
Michael Burke
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Carneades
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Epictetus
Epicurus
Herbert Feigl
John Martin Fischer
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Michael Frede
Gottlob Frege
Peter Geach
Edmund Gettier
Carl Ginet
Alvin Goldman
Gorgias
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
Sam Harris
William Hasker
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
R.E.Hobart
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Baron d'Holbach
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
Ferenc Huoranszki
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Hilary Kornblith
Christine Korsgaard
Saul Kripke
Andrea Lavazza
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Leucippus
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
C. Lloyd Morgan
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
Alasdair MacIntyre
Ruth Barcan Marcus
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
John McTaggart
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
Trenton Merricks
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Porphyry
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
C.W.Rietdijk
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
Isabelle Stengers
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Francisco Suárez
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Mark Twain
Peter Unger
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
Voltaire
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
W.G.Ward
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

Michael Arbib
Bernard Baars
Gregory Bateson
John S. Bell
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Satyendra Nath Bose
Walther Bothe
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
John Cramer
E. P. Culverwell
Charles Darwin
Terrence Deacon
Louis de Broglie
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Paul Ehrenfest
Albert Einstein
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
R. A. Fisher
Joseph Fourier
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A.O.Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Patrick Haggard
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Martin Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
John Herschel
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Simon Kochen
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Benjamin Libet
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Howard Pattee
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Colin Pittendrigh
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Adolphe Quételet
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Roger Sperry
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Peter Tse
Heinz von Foerster
John von Neumann
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
John Wheeler
Wilhelm Wien
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
 
Brian McLaughlin

Brian McLaughlin is a professor of philosophy at Rutgers. He works on the mind-body problem, supervenience, emergence, and the nature of colors. He is also interested in the philosophy of science, notably cognitive science and computational psychology.

He is an editor of The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy Of Mind, Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Mind, and a landmark 1991 essay on philosophers that he dubbed the "British Emergentists" in Emergence or Reduction?: Essays on the Prospects of Nonreductive Physicalism.

McLaughlin's emergentists include John Stuart Mill, George Henry Lewes, C. Lloyd Morgan, Samuel Alexander, and C. D. Broad.

McLaughlin developed an "idealized" version of British Emergentism, synthesizing what most had in common into a coherent and representative picture. He says:

British Emergentism maintains that everything is made of matter: There are, for example, no Cartesian souls, or entelechies, vital elan, or the like. And it holds that matter is grainy, rather than continuous; indeed, that it bottoms-out into elementary material particles, atoms or more fundamental particles...Moreover, on its view, nothing happens, no change occurs, without some motion of elementary particles. And all motion is to the beat of the laws of mechanics.

According to British Emergentism, there is a hierarchy of levels of organizational complexity of material particles that includes, in ascending order, the strictly physical, the chemical, the biological, and the psychological level. There are certain kinds of material substances specific to each level. And the kinds of each level are wholly composed of kinds of lower levels, ultimately of kinds of elementary material particles. Moreover, there are certain properties specific to the kinds of substances of a given level. These are the "special properties" of matter...

What is especially striking about British Emergentism, however, is its view about the causal structure of reality. I turn to that view in the following two paragraphs.

British Emergentism maintains that some special science kinds from each special science can be wholly composed of types of structures of material particles that endow the kinds in question with fundamental causal powers. Subtleties aside, the powers in question "emerge" from the types of structures in question. Chemical elements, in virtue of their minute internal structures, have the power to bond with certain others. Certain biological organisms, in virtue of their minute internal structure, have the powers to breathe, to digest food, and to reproduce (Broad 1925, pp. 78 —81). And certain kinds of organisms, in virtue of the minute internal structures of their nervous systems, have "the power of cognizing, the power of being affected by past experiences, the power of association, and so on" (Broad 1925, p. 436). These powers emerge from the types of structures in question. The property of having a certain type of structure will thus endow a special science kind with emergent causal powers. Such a structure will have an emergent causal power as a matter of law, but the law will be not be "reducible to" or "derivative from" laws governing lower levels of complexity and any boundary conditions involving the arrangements of particles. The laws that attribute such powers to the types of structures in question are "emergent laws". These laws "emerge" from the laws governing lower levels of complexity and boundary conditions involving the arrangements of particles, and so are in no sense derivative from them.

Now, the exercise of the causal powers in question will involve the production of movements of various kinds. Indeed, Emergentism maintains that special kinds, in virtue of possessing certain types of minute internal structures, have the power to influence motion. And here is the striking point: They endow the kinds with the power to influence motion in ways unanticipated by laws governing less complex kinds and conditions concerning the arrangements of particles. Emergentism is committed to the nomological possibility of what has been called "downward causation".

McLaughlin's work is cited in modern attempts to defend an emergent dualism, downward causation, and a nonreductive physicalism in the face of criticism from Jaegwon Kim.

For McLaughlin, the question becomes whether what the British Emergentists were looking for is "nomologically" possible in terms of modern physics, which departs from the nineteenth-century view of strict causality, what Kim calls "causal closure." McLaughlin points out that Broad's The Mind and Its Place In Nature appeared just as quantum mechanics was being formulated in the late 1920's. He asks whether quantum mechanics or relativity offer any new ways that support downward causation, but he remains very skeptical.

David Bohm's (1989) interpretation of the formalism of quantum mechanics understands the quantum potential in a way that seems to involve downward causation...And Einstein's field equations, of general relativity may count as involving downward causation. Of course, downward causation from the psychological, biological, or chemical level is another matter. That is enormously implausible. There is overwhelming reason to reject that idea and the existence of configurational chemical, vital, or psychological forces. Or so I argue below.

Let us pause for a moment to ask what the Emergentist notion of emergent causal powers and laws at the chemical, biological, and psychological levels would mean in the context of nonrelativistic quantum mechanics. Schrodinger's equation is the fundamental law of nonrelativistic quantum mechanics. It governs the evolution of systems through time. It tells us that the temporal evolution of a state vector ψ is determined by H ψ = ih δψ/δt, where H is the Hamiltonian operator and h is Planck's constant divided by 2π. Now, to employ the equation, one must independently determine the Hamiltonian. The Hamiltonian concerns energy, rather than forces. (Quantum mechanics could, however, be recast in terms of forces, it is just that the mathematics would be considerably more complex; scalars are, of course, easier to compute with than vectors.) But on the Emergentist view in question there would be kinds of energies specific to types of structures of particles that compose certain chemical, biological, and psychological kinds.

Hereafter, I will, however, focus on the notion of configurational forces, rather than energies and the Hamiltonian. Quantum mechanics was not developed until just after the publication of The Mind and Its Place in Nature; and this was, as I mentioned, the last major work in the Emergentist tradition. Alexander, Morgan, and Broad lived to see the advent of quantum mechanics. But when they were writing in the Emergentist tradition, they knew nothing of Schrodinger's equation or the like.

It is, I contend, no coincidence that the last major work in the British Emergentist tradition coincided with the advent of quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics and the various scientific advances it made possible are arguably what led to British Emergentism's fall. It is not that British Emergentism is logically incompatible with nonrelativistic quantum mechanics. It is not. Schrodinger's equation could be the fundamental equation governing motion in a world with energies that are specific to types of structures of particles that compose certain chemical, biological, and psychological kinds. But, as will become apparent, quantum mechanical explanations of chemical bonding in terms of electro-magneticism, and various advances this made possible in molecular biology and genetics — for example, the discovery of the molecular structure of DNA — make the main doctrines of British emergentism, so far as the chemical and biological are concerned at least, seem enormously implausible.

We now have neuroscientific and biological evidence of downward causal control by the neuronal level and the biological level over their atoms and molecules, evidence of emergence and downward causation.
Given the achievements of quantum mechanics and these other scientific theories, there seems not a scintilla of evidence that there are emergent causal powers or laws in the sense in question; there seems not a scintilla of evidence that there are configurational forces; and there seems not a scintilla of evidence that there is downward causation from the psychological, biological, or chemical levels
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Notes

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Bibliography

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