Disentangling the Vitalism–Emergentism Knot

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Starting with the observation that there exist contradictory claims in the literature about the relationship between vitalism and emergentism—be it one of inclusion or, on the contrary, exclusion–, this paper aims at disentangling the vitalism–emergentism knot. To this purpose, after having described a particular form of emergentism, namely Lloyd Morgan’s emergent evolutionism, I develop a conceptual analysis on the basis of a distinction between varieties of monism and pluralism. This analysis allows me to identify and characterize several forms of vitalism and emergentism, and a subsequent comparison between these forms constitutes the occasion for a clarification of the relationship between both doctrines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-88
Number of pages16
JournalJournal for General Philosophy of Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Emergence
  • Emergent evolutionism
  • Emergentism
  • Vitalism


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