Weak Emergence and Complexity

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPaper in conference proceeding


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).


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Philosophy
  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • weak emergence, emergence, complexity, predictability, chaos
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArtificial Life XII Proceedings of the Twelfth International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems
EditorsHarold Fellerman, Mark Dörr, Martin Hanczy, Lone Ladegaard Laursen, Sarah Mauer, Daniel Merkle, Pierre-Alain Monnard, Kasper Støy, Steen Rasmussen
PublisherMIT Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)978-0-262-29075-3
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch