Social Emergence: Relational or Functional?  Cover Image

Social Emergence: Relational or Functional?
Social Emergence: Relational or Functional?

Author(s): Dave Elder-Vass
Subject(s): Philosophy
Published by: Институтът по философия и социология при БАН
Keywords: Emergence; multiple realizability; reductionism; critical realism; mechanisms;

Summary/Abstract: This paper outlines a relational variety of the theory of emergence and claims that it can be applied more fruit-fully to sociology than the functional variety advocated by Keith Sawyer. Sawyer argues that the wildly disjunctive multiple realizability of social properties justifies a nonreductive approach to causal explanation in the social sciences (but also ontological individualism). In response, this paper argues, first, that the social properties he dis-cusses are not wildly disjunctive, and secondly, that we can explain their causal significance more effectively with a relational emergence theory linked to the critical realist account of causal powers. Although these properties are multiply realizable, they are not emergent because they are multiply realizable, but despite being so.

  • Issue Year: VI/2014
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 5-16
  • Page Count: 12
  • Language: English