emergent properties


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emergent properties

any properties (of a social system or group) of which it can be asserted that they cannot be explained simply in terms of their origins or constituent parts – hence the notion that ‘the whole is greater than the parts’. The term is especially identified with functionalist sociologies, such as Durkheim's, which emphasize the AUTONOMY OF SOCIOLOGY from other disciplines (i.e. that sociological accounts should not be subject to REDUCTIONISM). The notion of emergent properties has often been criticized. For example, it has been seen as leading to a reified account (see REIFICATION) of social reality, and to a loss of visibility and recognition of the influence of the individual actor. However, the conception of emergent properties need not be associated with the notion that there are no links with, or no influence of, underlying levels of reality, but merely that there may be aspects of social reality which cannot be satisfactorily explained reductively In the physical sciences, too, emergent properties play an indispensable role (e.g. ‘weather systems’ in meteorology) where the complexity of reality and the unpredictability of the underlying variables defies a fully reductive account. In an important sense, the existence of separate disciplines in science is testimony to the existence of emergent properties; at the very least emergent properties prove analytically indispensable. The importance of these need not mean the existence of any absolute barriers to attempts at reductionistic analysis; simply that these attempts are unlikely ever to be entirely successful, and even if successful, will not overturn the utility of the conception of emergent properties. Compare HOLISM, METHODOLOGICAL INDIVIDUALISM.
References in periodicals archive ?
Emergent properties may indicate the existence of the soul; they are not substitutes for it-for that single unifying principle that is the source of the unity of the living being precisely as living.
Adequate management of emergent properties is highly dependent on these learning processes and may be realized just after the system is in operation (Pavitt, 2003; Rosenberg, 1982).
To determine deviation from predicted behavior is extremely challenging, since defining and measuring emergent properties is done by the means of project procedural knowledge, which links many different specialized disciplines.
The analysis of the emergent properties phenomenon requires the use of a practice-oriented epistemology.
Second, a biological system always possesses some emergent properties.
In the particular case of multi-agent systems, the interest and the difficulty lies in having both self-organisation and emergent properties, mainly emergent functionality that arises from individual simple tasks performed by the agents.
These diseases are in effect, emergent properties of a complex system.
She supposes that these higher, self-organizing levels of order exhibit emergent properties that are irreducible to the sum of their constituent parts.
On the basis of this conceptual analysis, the paper argues that theoretical considerations suggest that mental properties should be understood as emergent properties rather than reductive or functional properties.
3) Irreducibility: the emergent properties of systems are novel in the sense that they are not deducible from basal objects and their basal properties.
Other versions of emergentism understand the emergent properties as "novel" in the sense that they cannot be "explained" or "predicted.
Each sort of perceiver has its own kind of access to genuine, emergent properties of the world.