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What Is a Complex System?$
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James Ladyman and Karoline Wiesner

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780300251104

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300251104.001.0001

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What Is a Complex System?

What Is a Complex System?

(p.117) Chapter 5 What Is a Complex System?
What Is a Complex System?

J. Ladyman

K. Wiesner

Yale University Press

This chapter assesses whether there is a single natural phenomenon of complexity found in a wide variety of living and nonliving systems and which can be the subject of a single scientific theory. Is there such a thing as 'complexity science' rather than merely branches of different sciences, each of which have to deal with their own examples of complex systems? The chapter synthesises an account of how to think about complexity and complex systems from the examples and analysis of the previous chapters. Roughly speaking, there is no single phenomenon of complexity, but there are a variety of features of complex systems that manifest themselves in different ways in different contexts. Hence, complexity science is not a single scientific theory but a collection of models and theories that can be used to study the different features in common ways across different kinds of systems. The chapter then considers different views about complex systems.

Keywords:   complexity, complexity science, complex systems, scientific theory, natural phenomenon, living systems, nonliving systems

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