New Mechanism, Reduction and Emergence in Physics, Chemistry and Biology

Due to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the conference is postponed to JUNE 2021.

We will announce the exact date as soon as possible.
We will open a new call for abstracts and provide more detailed organisational information in due time.


LISBON, 15-16 September 2020

Conference theme and call for abstracts

This conference addresses the epistemological and ontological significance as well as the scope of new mechanism and, in particular, its relationship with the topics of reduction and emergence in the physical, chemical and biological sciences. As it is well known, new mechanism was elaborated to overcome the limits of the neo-positivist philosophy of science and, in particular, the nomological model of scientific explanation. Still, it is also true that new mechanism is supposed to be new vis-à-vis the classical atomistic mechanism from the XVII century.

Being so, what should we take to be the real novelty of the so-called new mechanism? What may be the ontological reasons underlying the adoption of mechanistic instead of other modelling strategies (e.g., network analysis)? Furthermore, does new mechanism fit the phenomena studied by contemporary sciences? For example, how can mechanistic explanations fit contemporary physics, for instance quantum field theory, astroparticle physics or condensed matter physics? Additionally, what can be the new mechanistic position on the ongoing debate about the different notions of reduction and emergence, either in ontological or epistemological terms? How can the new mechanistic model of explanation be compatible with a certain notion of reduction and still accommodate a non-trivial notion of emergence? Are mechanistic explanations necessarily reductive, given that many involve intertheoretical identities? Finally, in what sense emergence and reduction can be taken as direct opposite and/or complementary views within the new mechanistic approach?

The main goal of this conference is to address such questions by taking into account contemporary research developments in the natural sciences.

Any abstract related to the themes of the conference will be evaluated. We would like to give all speakers a 1 hour slot for presentation and discussion. Therefore, a limited number of abstracts might be accepted.

All abstracts should be of a maximum of 500 words (not including bibliography).
Submissions must be prepared for blind-review. Please include a separate file as a cover page with your name, the title of your submission, your current academic affiliation and your e-mail address.

Please send your submissions to the following email address with reference to the conference:

Deadline for abstract submission: May 31th, 2020.
Notification of acceptance: June 30th, 2020.


This conference is organized by the Centre for Philosophy of Science of the University of Lisbon (FCT Ref. UIDB/00678/2020) and the FCT Research Project Grant PTDC/ FER-HFC/30665/2017 “Emergence in the Natural Sciences: Toward a New Paradigm”.