Emergence, largely ignored just thirty years ago, has become one of the liveliest areas of research in both philosophy and science. Fueled by advances in complexity theory, artificial life, physics, psychology, sociology, and biology and by the parallel development of new conceptual tools in philosophy, the idea of emergence offers a way to understand a wide variety of complex phenomena in ways that are intriguingly different from more traditional approaches. This reader collects for the first time in one easily accessible place classic writings on emergence from contemporary philosophy and science. The chapters, by such prominent scholars as John Searle, Stephen Weinberg, William Wimsatt, Thomas Schelling, Jaegwon Kim, Robert Laughlin, Daniel Dennett, Herbert Simon, Stephen Wolfram, Jerry Fodor, Philip Anderson, and David Chalmers, cover the major approaches to emergence. Each of the three sections ("Philosophical Perspectives," "Scientific Perspectives," and "Background and Polemics") begins with an introduction putting the chapters into context and posing key questions for further exploration. A bibliography lists more specialized material, and an associated website (http://mitpress.mit.edu/emergence) links to downloadable software and to other sites and publications about emergence.
ContributorsP. W. Anderson, Andrew Assad, Nils A. Baas, Mark A. Bedau, Mathieu S. Capcarrère, David Chalmers, James P. Crutchfield, Daniel C. Dennett, J. Doyne Farmer, Jerry Fodor, Carl Hempel, Paul Humphreys, Jaegwon Kim, Robert B. Laughlin, Bernd Mayer, Brian P. McLaughlin, Ernest Nagel, Martin Nillson, Paul Oppenheim, Norman H. Packard, David Pines, Steen Rasmussen, Edmund M. A. Ronald, Thomas Schelling, John Searle, Robert S. Shaw, Herbert Simon, Moshe Sipper, Stephen Weinberg, William Wimsatt, and Stephen Wolfram.