Does rejecting reductionism absolutely imply that you accept the existence of emergent properties? Or is there an alternative explanation to emergent properties? By reductionism, I mean the belief that physics explain all of chemistry and all of chemistry explain biology. If somethings in biology cannot be explained by chemistry, can it be explained using emergent properties?

So basically are there other things than emergence that explains why biology cannot be reduced to chemistry, or chemistry to physics?

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    The simplest alternative option is intractability, reduction is too complex for us to perform, now or even ever. A stronger alternative is what Gillett calls machresis, see his Reduction and Emergence in Philosophy and Science. There are no emergent properties but there are emergent laws, additional constraints on functioning of elements inside composites that are not derivable from their properties combined with interaction laws outside of composites.
    – Conifold
    Dec 16, 2021 at 8:02

1 Answer 1


Not necessarily.

Substance dualism (interactionism) is a second possibility which does not accept emergentism.

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