31st Boulder Conference on the History and Philosophy of Science

October 16-17, 2015, University of Colorado at Boulder

Topic: Emergence


The notion of emergence is of central interest across a variety of domains of philosophical and scientific inquiry. Emergent phenomena are phenomena that in some sense “arise” from other phenomena, on which they somehow “depend” but to which they’re also somehow “irreducible”. Putative examples are common and span physical, chemical, biological, psychological, linguistic, social, economic, and political dimensions. The notion of emergence is invoked to account for phenomena that appear to resist more familiar forms of theoretical characterization. Use of the notion in both philosophy and science has a long history. As such use has become more central and pervasive, the need for careful, systematic theorizing about it has become more pressing. Exactly what is
emergence, and how is it related to such notions as grounding, explanation,  supervenience, causation, and identity? Does the notion help illuminate the nature of the relevant phenomena, or does it hide a lack of understanding behind an obscure concept? The conference aims to explore these and related issues from philosophical and scientific perspectives, both historical and contemporary.

Keynote speakers:

  • Jessica Wilson, Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto
  • Michael Hermele, Department of Physics, University of Colorado
  • Paul Humphreys, Department of Philosophy, University of Virginia

Call for papers


We invite submissions on any historical or contemporary topic related to scientific or philosophical issues regarding emergence. Aiming for both depth and breadth, we welcome cutting-edge work at any level of specificity or generality.

Faculty interested in presenting are invited to submit an abstract of 500-1000 words. Graduate students are invited to submit full papers of 3000-4000 words. All submissions should be prepared for blind review, and should be suitable for 30-40min sessions. Submissions are due by June 30, 2015 and should be sent as an email attachment in pdf format to the organizers, professors Carol Cleland (carol.cleland@colorado.edu) and Raul Saucedo (raul.saucedo@colorado.edu). Acceptances will be announced by August 5, 2015.

Graduate stipend: Graduate students are encouraged to submit for the program; those whose papers are accepted will receive a modest stipend of $100 to help offset travel expenses.

The Committee on the History and Philosophy of Science at University of Colorado at Boulder is co-sponsored by the University of Colorado College of Arts and Sciences, the Center for the Humanities and the Arts, the Museum of Natural History, and by the following University of Colorado Departments: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Geological Sciences; History; Mathematics; Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology; Philosophy; and Physics.

Deadline: June 30, 2015

Posted: June 22, 2015