The conceptual span and plausibility of emergence applied to the problem of mental causation

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This thesis explores the conceptual span and plausibility of emergence and its applicability to the problem of mental causation. The early parts of the project explicate a distinction between weak

This thesis explores the conceptual span and plausibility of emergence and its applicability to the problem of mental causation. The early parts of the project explicate a distinction between weak and strong emergence as described by Jaegwon Kim. They also consider Kim's objections regarding the conceptual incoherence of strong emergence and the otiose nature of weak emergence. The paper then explores Mark Bedau's in-between conception of emergence and ultimately finds that middle conception to be both coherent and useful. With these three emergence distinctions in hand, the thesis goes on to explore Evan Thompson's recent work - Mind in Life (2010). In that work, Thompson advances a strong emergence approach to mind, whereby he concludes the incipient stages of cognition are found at the most basic levels of life, namely - biologic cells. Along the way, Thompson embraces holism and a nonfundamental
onhierarchical physics in order to counter Jaegwon Kim's objections to the notion of downward causation needed for strong emergence. The thesis presents arguments against Thompson's holism and nonfundamental physics, while supporting his assertion regarding the incipient stages of cognition. It then combines an important distinction between mental causation and the experience of mental causation with Thompson's notion of incipient cognition to arrive at a dual realms approach to understanding mental causation.