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Wilkins-Bernal-Medawar Prize Lecture by Dr Jeremy Butterfield University of Cambridge



Wilkins-Bernal-Medawar Prize Lecture
Dr Jeremy Butterfield
University of Cambridge

`Emergence', and its contrary reduction, are buzz-words in both physics and philosophy. Both physicists and philosophers disagree about the extent to which we can understand large-scale or complex phenomena in terms of their microscopic parts. Examples include both everyday phenomena like the freezing and boiling of liquids, and fancy ideas like fractals. In this talk, Jeremy Butterfield will pour some oil on these troubled waters. First, he will adopt the philosopher's usual tactic of distinguishing different senses of the contentious terms. Then he will use examples such as freezing and fractals to describe how we understand emergent phenomena by appealing to various kinds of infinity.

This lecture was repeated at the University of Bristol at 5pm on Thursday 8 November 2007.