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Keywords:

  • agent causation;
  • emergence;
  • emergentist supervenience;
  • morphodynamics;
  • phenomenology;
  • strong supervenience;
  • teleodynamics;
  • thermodynamics;
  • weak supervenience

Abstract. Philip Clayton's work on emergence is a valuable contribution to the fields of religion, science, and philosophy. I focus on three narrow but extremely important areas of Clayton's work. First, Clayton deems that Terrence Deacon's emergence theory is difficult to accept because it is constructed from thermodynamics, thereby rendering it unable to address phenomenological issues. I examine Deacon's theory and show that development from a physics base is warranted. Furthermore, Clayton does not convincingly demonstrate that such a constructive approach is necessarily incapable of attending to mental phenomena or offer an alternative that explains the causal power of a physically nonconstructible mental realm. Second, I argue that Clayton's notion of emergentist supervenience for comprehending the mental/physical relation is unnecessarily redundant and problematic in relation to causal power. Third, I explore Clayton's alternative use of agent causation to make sense of mental properties having causal power in the world. His effort to resolve emergence difficulties by appealing to phenomenology receives primary attention. Clayton's use of emergence theory is an important contribution to the religion-and-science community, and I encourage further dialogue on the exchange that Clayton commences.