Faculty Publications

Faculty Author Publishes about Emergence with Prestigious Oxford University Press 

Physics and Engineering department faculty member, Dr. Robert Bishop with two co-authors, has just published a book entitled Emergence in Context with “the world's leading university press” Oxford University Press (OUP).

Emergence in Context: Oxford University Press Description

Science, philosophy of science, and metaphysics have long been concerned with the question of how novel things emerge. How can order come out of disorder? This book introduces a new account, contextual emergence, seeking to answer these questions.

Contextual emergence is grounded primarily in the sciences as opposed to logic or metaphysics. It is both an explanatory and ontological account of emergence, moving beyond the impasse between “weak” and “strong” emergence. It challenges the “foundationalist” and hierarchical picture of reality, emphasizing the ontological and explanatory fundamentality of multiscale stability conditions and their contextual constraints, often operating globally over interconnected, interdependent, and interacting entities and their relations. It also focuses on the conditions that make the existence, stability, and persistence of emergent systems possible. As reflected in scientific explanations, these conditions and constraints are irreducibly multiscale relations. Such multiscale conditions act as gatekeepers for systems to access modal possibilities.

Using examples ranging across the sciences, this book demonstrates that there is an empirically well-grounded, viable alternative to ontological reductionism coupled with explanatory anti-reductionism (weak emergence) and ontological disunity coupled with the impossibility of robust scientific explanation (strong emergence). Central metaphysics of science concerns are addressed throughout.

Emergence in Context: A Treatise in Twenty-First Century Natural Philosophy is written primarily for philosophers of science, professional scientists from multiple disciplines, and metaphysicians of science.

Dr. Robert Bishop is the John and Madeleine McIntyre Endowed Professor of Philosophy and History of Science at Wheaton College. Dr. Bishop's research involves the history and philosophy of science, philosophy of physics, philosophy of social science, philosophy of mind and psychology, and metaphysics. He is particularly interested in chaos and complex systems and their philosophical implications as well as reduction, emergence, and determinism in the sciences. He is the author of The Philosophy of the Social Sciences (2007) and The Physics of Emergence (2019).