Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Summer School Course: Emergence, Explanation and Complexity

A 4-week course on Emergence, Explanation and Complexity, targeted at MA and Ph.D. students, will be offered as part of the 2011 Aarhus Summer University program.

Dates:  August 1 - 26  2011

Place:  Aarhus University, Denmark

Lecturer:    Alan Baker
    Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy
    Swarthmore College

   Associate Fellow, CABDyN Complexity Centre
   University of Oxford

Application Deadline:  March 15  2011     *** update: late applications may still be accepted -- email Dr. Jacob Busch at  if you have not yet applied and are interested in participating in the course ***

The rise of the interdisciplinary scientific study of complex phenomena, from anthills to brains to global climate, raises many interesting philosophical questions. What is it for a phenomenon to be complex? Are there methodological approaches that are distinctive to complexity science? This course will provide an overview of these issues, with a focus on two topics in particular.

The first topic is emergence, which has been an important yet elusive concept in the debate over reductionism in both philosophy of science and philosophy of mind. We will explore potential links between emergence and complexity, and whether insights from complexity science can help sharpen the concept of emergence.

The second topic is explanation. We will examine the leading philosophical accounts of scientific explanation and assess the extent to which they capture the way explanation works for complex phenomena. We will also look at the relation between explanation and prediction for complex systems, and how explanation functions against the background of the widespread use of simulations in complexity science.

The target audience for the course is MA and Ph.D. students in Philosophy, in Complexity Science, or in related disciplines such as Systems Biology, etc.

For a course summary, see the Aarhus University Course Catalogue:

For details concerning the application procedure, follow the link beneath the course description at:

Questions about the content and approach of the course may be directed to the Course Lecturer, Alan Baker, at

Questions about local arrangements and other information about the logistics of the course and about the Aarhus Summer University may be directed to the local organizer, Dr. Jacob Busch, Department of Philosophy, Aarhus University, at