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Metaphysical Emergence without substantialist Monism: Towards a relational ontology

Grant number: 23/00795-5
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): October 01, 2023
Effective date (End): February 28, 2025
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy - Metaphysics
Principal Investigator:Marcelo Esteban Coniglio
Grantee:Vinicius da Silva Sorgi
Host Institution: Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas (IFCH). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil


Ontological Physicalism is one of the most widely accepted versions of substantialist-materialist monism. This position supports the thesis that (i) all that exists are discrete material substances, their causal properties and their aggregates, and that (ii) all other forms of existence supervene on (or depend on) such substances. Following the neo-Aristotelian analysis (Lowe 2006, Hoffman 2012), material substances are fundamental, independent and non-relational entities. As a reductionist position, Ontological Physicalism is defined in part by the notion of supervenience and sustains the monism of substances and properties (both of the first order) by preventing the ontological addition of new entities and emergent higher-order causal properties. Thus, reductionist ontologies do not accept the so-called metaphysical emergence of new entities and causal properties. In order to sustain monist naturalism against emergence, Physicalists have two strategies: a metaphysical one, through the famous Supervenience Argument proposed by Jaegwon Kim (2005), and an ontological one, through the Nominalist strategy of semantic reduction from the second order to the first order. The present research intends to discuss the materialist monist ontology from the neo-Aristotelian analysis of material substances, and then evaluate to what extent the reductionist strategies of the Physicalists against the metaphysical emergence are satisfactory. It will explore the defense of non-reductive physicalism proposed by J. M. Wilson (2021) and assess whether this non-reductive perspective offers a genuine account of metaphysical emergence. Finally, the research intends to introduce processualist metaphysics and evaluate whether this relational ontology offers a satisfactory account for the phenomenon of emergence.

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