Workshop “Emergence and Reduction in Science and Metaphysics”

July 27, 2022
27 / 07 / 2022 – 29 / 07 / 2022

Emergence and Reduction in Science and Metaphysics

ORG.: Alastair Wilson (Birmingham), João L. Cordovil (CFCUL), Tuomas Tahko (Bristol), David Yates (CFUL)

Special sciences such as chemistry, biology and psychology seem to be autonomous from physics, with successful intertheoretic reductions at a premium. Focusing on the philosophy of science, it is easy to conclude that in addition to fundamental physical entities, kinds, laws and explanations, there are also distinctive kinds, laws and explanations at higher levels of analysis. When we focus on the metaphysics of interlevel relations, however, it becomes hard to see how there could be autonomous special sciences: if special science processes are grounded in fundamental physical entities and processes, then it seems the special sciences should be ontologically reducible to physics.

Should our understanding of science be informed by relatively a priori metaphysics concerning relations such as grounding, emergence, realization and composition? Or should the autonomy of the special sciences be taken as a datum to be explained by a relatively a posteriori metaphysics? This workshop, hosted by the Emergence in the Natural Sciences project based at the University of Lisbon, aims to address the interplay between metaphysics and the philosophy of science in addressing these issues. It is jointly organized by the Lisbon emergence project, Tuomas Tahko’s Metascience project (Bristol) and Alastair Wilson’s Framephys project (Birmingham). It will feature short talks and longer keynote addresses over 3 days, involving members of the projects’ research teams and invited speakers.

Participants (shorter talks)
Nicholas Emmerson (Birmingham): “It ain’t that deep: Metaphysics and the Problem of Progress”
Joaquim Giannotti (Birmingham): “Strong Emergence and Weak Fundamentality”
Michael Townsen Hicks (Birmingham): “Agency Considerations in Natural Modality”
Katie Robertson (Birmingham): “In Defence of Explanatory Levels”
Alastair Wilson (Birmingham): “Theoretical Relicts: Progress, Reduction, and Autonomy”
Vanessa Seifert (Athens): “Molecules as quantum objects”
Alexander Franklin (KCL) :“Probabilities in physics”
Francesca Bellazzi (Bristol): “Biochemical kinds”
Toby Friend (Bristol): “Causation without causal relations”
William Morgan (Bristol): “Does Reduction Entail Identity?”
Samuel Kimpton-Nye (Bristol): “Modal Anti-Realism: The Really Poisoned Pawn”
Tuomas Tahko (Bristol): “Making Reductionism True”

Keynote Speakers
David Papineau (KCL / CUNY): “What Causal Inference tells us about Causation”
Jonathan Schaffer (Rutgers): “Ground Physicalism”
Naomi Thompson (Southampton): “How (and why) to be an antirealist about metaphysical explanation”


Wednesday, 27 July

13:30—14:00 Welcome / Coffee
14:00—14:45 Nicholas Emmerson: It ain’t that deep: Metaphysics and the Problem of Progress
14:45—15:30 Joaquim Giannotti: Strong Emergence and Weak Fundamentality
15:30—16:00 Coffee Break
16:00—16:45 Michael Townsen Hicks: Agency Considerations in Natural Modality
16:45—18:00 Jonathan Schaffer: Ground Physicalism

Thursday, 28 July

09:30—10:00 Coffee
10:00—10:45 Katie Robertson: The Emergence of Statistical Mechanical Probabilities from Entanglement
10:45—11:30 Alastair Wilson: Metaphysical Emergence as Higher-level Naturalness
11:30—11:45 Coffee Break
11:45—12:30 Vanessa Seifert: Molecules as Quantum Objects
12:30—14:00 Lunch
14:00—14:45 Alexander Franklin: How the Universe Plays Dice: Emergent Probabilities in Physics
14:45—15:30 Francesca Bellazzi: Biochemical Kinds
15:30—16:00 Coffee Break
16:00—16:45 Toby Friend: The Determinable World Hypothesis
16:45—18:00 Naomi Thompson: How (and why) to be an Antirealist about Metaphysical Explanation

Friday, 29 July

09:30—10:00 Coffee
10:00—10:45 William Morgan: Does Reduction Entail Identity?
10:45—11:30 Samuel Kimpton-Nye: Modal Anti-Realism: The Really Poisoned Pawn
11:30—11:45 Coffee Break
11:45—12:30 Tuomas Tahko: Making Reductionism True
12:30—13:30 Lunch
13:30—14:45 David Papineau: What Causal Inference Tells us about Causation

The workshop has a hybrid format, in person (Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon) and online (Zoom).


Address Amphitheatre FCiências.ID
Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon
Building C1, Floor 3
Campo Grande, Lisbon


Link Zoom
Password: 039383