Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 295–303 | Cite as

Robust re-engineering: a philosophical account?

W. Wimsatt, Re-engineering philosophy for limited beings: Piecewise approximations to reality. Harvard, 2007
  • W. C. Wimsatt
Book Review

I have been really fortunate in having three commentators who put such substantial work into reading and commenting on my book. And their overall assessments have been very generous—even when, as with Alex Rosenberg, the position argued for is on a collision course with his own.

I thank Alex for his generous assessment of the potential importance of my position, and he raises some genuine questions that demand further response and reflection. But the distance between our positions may have facilitated some misunderstandings. I’ll start with these, and then transition to his deeper doubts that demand more attention. Some of these provide a natural transition to topics discussed by Brett Calcott and Jim Griesemer.

Emergence, aggregativity, and reduction

The easiest place to start is with Rosenberg’s discussion of my position on the three related topics of emergence, aggregativity, and reduction. I open my discussion by noting that both Nagel and Hempel diagnose emergence as a failure to...


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.University of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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