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A Brief History of British Emergentism

Michele Paolini Paoletti

Pages 28 - 55

In a famous article on the history of British Emergentism (i.e. the set of doctrines on emergence developed at the juncture of the 19th and the 20th centuries), Brian P. McLaughlin (1992) talks of the “rise and fall” of this philosophical movement. According to McLaughlin, British Emergentism was defeated by some theoretical difficulties and by new scientific discoveries that gave support to the rival reductionist project. In sum, British Emergentism was soon at odds with the progress of the sciences and it was rightly put aside by scientists and scientifically informed philosophers.


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