Executive Director Wesley J. Wildman and Research Associate LeRon Shults
Emergent Behavior in Complex Systems Engineering: A Modeling and Simulation Approach
April 16, 2018
Chapter Summary: This chapter begins with a primer on basic philosophical distinctions pertaining to emergence: weak emergence, types of strong emergence depending on affirmation of supervenience, and three types of reductionism: ontological reductionism, explanatory reductionism and value reductionism. These distinctions are then related to the mathematics of complex dynamical systems and to the concerns and accomplishments of computer engineers, particularly in the domain of modeling and simulation. The chapter then discusses the major development in the history of the development of the concept of emergence: its encounter with the mathematics of complexity and especially nonlinear dynamical systems. The basic message of the chapter is that computer engineers are effecting a transformation in philosophical disputes about emergence, steadily promoting confidence in theories of weak emergence and undermining the plausibility of these types of strong emergence.