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A comparative analysis of Esfeld's holism and O'Connor's emergence

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(Thesis) M.A.
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Since philosophers have called upon the presence of both holistic and emergent properties to explain how a whole can be ‘more than the sum of its parts’, this project explores whether a given property may be described as both holistic and emergent. After presenting Esfeld’s account of holism and O’Connor’s account of emergence I argue that only top-down holistic properties could potentially be emergent. Because bottom-up holistic properties are instantiated by the parts of a whole instead of by the whole itself, they cannot introduce the form of downward causation which is O’Connor’s most important criterion of emergence. Despite these findings, however, I note that these two accounts involve importantly distin ct stories of the generation of their respective properties and, since no one property can be generated in two distinct ways, I conclude that, in the senses currently delineated by these authors, no property can be both holistic and emergent.
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