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Critical Realism and the Process Account of Emergence



For advocates of critical realism emergence is a central theme. Critical realists typically ground their defence of the relative disciplinary autonomy of various sciences by arguing that emergent phenomena exist in a robust non-ontologically, non-causally reductionist sense. Despite the importance they attach to it critical realists have only recently begun to elaborate on emergence at length and systematically compare their own account with those developed by others. This paper clarifies what is distinctive about the critical realist account of emergence by comparing it with an alternative. Critical realism and interactivism are shown to independently converge on the same general process (or constraint) view of emergence and develop complementary accounts of particular emergents.