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Weak Emergence and Complexity

  • Henrik Thorén
  • Philip Gerlee
  • Harold Fellerman
  • Mark Dörr
  • Martin Hanczy
  • Lone Ladegaard Laursen
  • Sarah Mauer
  • Daniel Merkle
  • Pierre-Alain Monnard
  • Kasper Støy
  • Steen Rasmussen
Publishing year: 2010
Language: English
Pages: 879-886
Publication/Series: Artificial Life XII Proceedings of the Twelfth International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems
Document type: Conference paper
Publisher: MIT Press

Abstract english

In this paper we consider Mark Bedau’s notion of weak emer- gence (WE) and relate it to various attempts to objectively construe complexity. We argue that the heavy reliance on a specific notion of complexity risks rendering the concept superfluous. Furthermore we discuss what sort of systems might reasonably be understood as exhibiting emergence at all and point out that the macro-level needs to be at least min- imally structured. A worry may thus be formed that macro- level generalisations provide the sort of short-cut that is ex- plicitly excluded from WE thus potentially making the con- cept apply only to chaotic systems of limited interest (in this context).


  • Philosophy
  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • weak emergence
  • emergence
  • complexity
  • predictability
  • chaos


  • ISBN: 978-0-262-29075-3
Henrik Thorén
E-mail: henrik [dot] thoren [at] fil [dot] lu [dot] se

Visiting research fellow

LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)



Theoretical Philosophy


P.O. Box 170, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden
Phone: +46(0)46- 222 80 81
info [at] lucsus [dot] lu [dot] se