Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Noonan, Jeff (History, Philosophy, and Political Science)






This thesis uses Manuel DeLanda's realist emergentist ontology to indicate a foundation for an ethics of open possibility and experimentation. DeLanda's emergentist ontology will be used as a bridge that links nature as a creative system to human life as self-consciously creative. As an emergent goal of human life as such, personal experimentation has an irreducibly ethical dimension. I will argue that John Russon's concept of mutual equal recognition or universality-as-sharedness best explicates the ethical implications implied by but not explored in the work of DeLanda. Chapter 1 is a general introduction and lays out the three competing views to which this thesis is opposed and to which it offers an alternative. Chapter 2 explains the meaning and implications of DeLanda's conception of natural processes as creative, suggesting that there are ethical implications for how we ought to live life if reality is as DeLanda claims. These ethical implications are emergent properties of natural and social organisation. Thus, Chapter 3 will look at a selection of material from other contemporary thinkers on emergence, aiming to bring DeLanda's conception into further relief and explain its unique appropriateness for the ethical implications this thesis is explicating. In Chapter 4, the ethical implications of DeLanda's ontology will be made fully explicit. I will demonstrate how Russon's principle of mutual equal recognition is an emergent property of human history and, as such, the social foundation for the ethics of personal experimentation and open possibility implied by but not explicated in DeLanda's ontology.