Natural Fabrications: Science, Emergence and Consciousness (The Frontiers Collection)
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The spectacular success of the scientific enterprise over the last four hundred years has led to the promise of an all encompassing vision of the natural world. In this elegant picture, everything we observe is based upon just a few fundamental processes and entities. The almost infinite variety and complexity of the world is thus the product of emergence. But the concept of emergence is fraught with controversy and confusion. This book ponders the question of how emergence should be understood within the scientific picture, and whether a complete vision of the world can be attained that includes consciousness.
postulates these entities deserves considerable—but limited—epistemic respect. I don’t think however that this forces us to embrace the SPW. Instead, I think one should regard the scientific enterprise as one of model building with the object of the model being to generate correct descriptions and predictions of observable and measurable phenomena. These models are usually idealized and simplified theoretical representations of some portion of reality. The scale of such models is breathtakingly
attendants which have no causal effect back on the physical realm. This avoids the danger of violating conservation laws but the price is high. The supposed benefit of emergentism is that it does not displace consciousness from the physical world. Plus, of course, epiphenomenalism has difficulties of its own which are quite formidable such as the charge that epiphenomenalism entails that our conscious states are not the source of our (supposed) knowledge of them or even our knowledge that we are
provide an interesting argument that an underlying determinate ontology is incompatible with the existence of vague objects. 11 The ‘essential indeterminacy’ of mountainhood (and all other supposedly vague properties) is something which so-called epistemicists about vagueness deny. Philosophers willing to bite this bullet must insist that there is a critical fact which determines whether or not X is a mountain, but this fact is for various reasons more or less completely inaccessible to us (see
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into lower entropy configurations. If we take an isolated container of some gas and introduce through a small hole extremely hot gas the system will lose entropy via our interaction but will then evolve so that the gas regains equilibrium. But it must be possible to take the state of the gas that has attained equilibrium and, at least in imagination, reverse all velocities of all gas molecules. Since mechanics possesses what I have called full temporal supervenience, the gas would evolve to a