Philosophy and Theology

Volume 34, Issue 1/2, 2022

J. P. Moreland
Pages 171-201

Making Precise Why a Naturalist Should Eschew Emergent Properties

I examine how a naturalist worldview informs work in philosophy of mind with a special focus on the appropriateness of a naturalist adopting emergent properties in his or her ontology. First, I examine two versions of naturalism construed as worldviews and clarify their differences. I argue that one of these versions is what naturalists ought to embrace. Happily, most but not all naturalists recognize this. To defend this claim, I will lay out certain epistemic criteria that are helpful in adjudicating between rival scientific and philosophical paradigms. These criteria will contribute to supporting my preference for which version of naturalism is preferable. Next, I present a general depiction of the components and inner logic of a naturalistic worldview and follow this by providing a precise notion of an emergent property. Finally, I offer several criticisms of emergent properties and conclude that a naturalist ought to avoid them.