Center for Interdisziplinary Research

Emergence, Reduction and the Explanation of Complex Structures

Date: January 24 - 26, 2007

Organizers: Jens Greve, Annette Schnabel (Bielefeld)

The workshop investigated the relationship between emergence and reduction in the explanation of complex structures. Thereby, three main topics were discussed. First, the notion of emergence was scrutinized. It turned out that the distinction between strong (irreducible) and weak (reducible) forms of emergence is vital, especially because there still exits no consensus on whether there are strong emergent phenomena or not. Second, examples of emergent phenomena were considered. This comprised a variety of social, physical, und biological phenomena. Finally, the workshop addressed the question of how emergent structures can be explained. This topic included a closer look at explanation in practice and its description along different models of reduction.

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