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Elly Vintiadis and Constantinos Mekios

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198758600

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198758600.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 21 October 2021

Brute Facts about Emergence

Brute Facts about Emergence

(p.177) 10 Brute Facts about Emergence
Brute Facts

John Symons

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the relationship between the concept of emergence, the goal of theoretical completeness, and the Principle of Sufficient Reason. Samuel Alexander and C. D. Broad argued for limits to the power of scientific explanation. Chemical explanation played a central role in their thinking. After Schrödinger’s work in the 1920s their examples seem to fall flat. However, there are more general lessons from the emergentists that need to be explored. There are cases where we know that explanation of some phenomenon is impossible. What are the implications of known limits to the explanatory power of science, and the apparent ineliminability of brute facts for emergence? One lesson drawn here is that we must embrace a methodological rather than a metaphysical conception of the Principle of Sufficient Reason.

Keywords:   brute fact, emergence, Samuel Alexander, C. D. Broad, Principle of Sufficient Reason, philosophy of chemistry

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