Realism and Emergence in the Philosophy of Science

Course summary

Realism and Emergence in the Philosophy of Science


During this weekend school we will consider metaphysics and its relation to science. We will be considering whether we need metaphysics at all, and if so why. One view is that the two types of enquiry are needed to guide and constrain each other – the two are components of a complete understanding of the world. We will also look at the notions of ‘dependence’ and ‘emergence’. One area of philosophy where such notions might do important work is in accounting for the relationship between the mental and the physical. We will consider different accounts of metaphysical dependence and emergence, and how they might be used to clarify the debate. There will be plenty of opportunity to socialise and to question the speakers.

Programme details



2.45pm         Course Registration


3.00pm         What is metaphysics and what should it be?

                    JAMES LADYMAN


4.30pm         Tea / coffee


5.00pm         Metaphysics and science: two’s company

                    NAOMI THOMPSON


6.30pm         Break / bar open


7.00pm         Dinner


8.15pm-        Emergence and dependence within and without physics

9.30pm         JAMES LADYMAN 




8.15am         Breakfast (residents only)


9.30am         Metaphysical dependence and the mental

                    NAOMI THOMPSON


10.45am       Coffee / tea


11.15am       Q & A

Questions directed by MARIANNE TALBOT


12.30pm       Break / bar open


1.00pm         Lunch


2.00pm         Course disperses


Recommended reading



Cameron, R. (2008). Turtles All the Way Down: Regress, Priority and Fundamentality. The

Philosophical Quarterly, 58(230), 1-14.

Humphrey, P & Bedau, M (eds):  Emergence: Contemporary Readings in Philosophy and

Science (Bradford Books) MIT Press, 2008

Kim, J., Mind in a Physical World, 2000 MIT Press

Ladyman, J & Ross, Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalised (2007) Oxford University Press.

Raven, M. (2015). Ground. Philosophy Compass, 10(5), 322-333.

Rosen, G. (2010). Metaphysical dependence: Grounding and reduction. In B. Hale, & A.

Hoffman, Modality: Metaphysics, Logic, and Epistemology (pp. 109-136). Oxford: Oxford

University Press.

Schaffer, J. (2004). Two Conceptions of Sparse Properties. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 85,


Schaffer, J. (2009). On What Grounds What. In D. Chalmers, D. Manley, & R. Wasserman,

Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology (pp. 347-383). Oxford: Oxford

University Press.

Wilson, J. (2016). Grounding-based Formulations of Physicalism. Topoi, 1-18.

Wilson, J. (2016). The Question of Metaphysics. The Philosophers Magazine(74), 90-96.



Accommodation for this weekend is at Rewley House for Saturday night only.

Depending on availability it may also be possible to extend your stay, please enquire at the time of booking for availability and prices.

All bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.

Unfortunately it is not yet possible to book twin room accommodation online, so if you wish to book a twin room, please send in your completed enrolment form or contact the Day & Weekend Events Office, Email:



Tuition (includes tea/coffee): £77.00


If you are in receipt of a state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses



Dr James Ladyman


studied pure mathematics and philosophy at the University of York, and then took a masters in history and philosophy of science and mathematics at King’s College London. He completed his PhD, on the semantic approach to scientific theories and structural realism, under the supervision of Steven French at the University of Leeds. He has been assistant, deputy and co-editor of the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science and honorary secretary of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science. He was profiled in THE for his role in the campaign against the introduction of the assessmet of the so-called ‘impact’ of academic research. He has published many articles largely in philosophy of mathematics, physics and science, and is the author of Understanding Philosophy of Science, and (with Don Ross) Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalised. He is professor of philosophy at the University of Bristol and co-editor of Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics.

Dr Naomi Thompson


is a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Southampton. She is also part of a team recently awarded a grant from the Swedish Foundation for Arts and Social Sciences to work on a three-year project entitled Metaphysical Explanation and hosted by the University of Gothenburg. Her interests are primarily in metaphysics, where she has published papers about natural properties, grounding, and explanation. She also sometimes writes about philosophy of fiction. Before coming to Southampton she held a Kit Fine postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Hamburg in Germany. Her PhD thesis (University of Birmingham) is entitled Structuring Reality, and in it Naomi defends an antirealist account of metaphysical structure.

Ms Marianne Talbot

Director of Studies


Marianne Talbot took her first degree at London University, then her B.Phil at Oxford (Corpus Christi College). She has taught for the colleges of Oxford University for 30 years (1987 – 1990 at Pembroke College, 1991 – 2000 at Brasenose College). She has been Director of Studies in Philosophy at OUDCE since 2001. She is the author of Bioethics: An Introduction, and Critical Reasoning: A Romp Through the Foothills of Logic. Marianne’s podcasts have been hugely popular. Two of them have been global number one on iTunesU. One of these (The Nature of Arguments) has been downloaded 7 million times.