Dr. Erica Onnis



October 2021 – September 2022

Short CV

Erica Onnis is Subject Expert and Research Fellow in Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Turin, where she is an active member of the Labont - Center for Ontology. During her PhD, she devoted herself to the understanding and clarification of the concept of emergence. She was visiting student at University College Cork under the supervision of Joel Walmsley, an expert in British Emergentism, and at the University of Lisbon, under the supervision of David Yates, who is developing the project Emergence in the Natural Sciences. Her research focuses on the nature of emergent phenomena, and the relation between the notion of emergence and those of reduction, novelty, complexity, and causation.

Project Description

Emergence between Biology and Metaphysics. Complexity, Distributed Causation, and Qualitative Novelty

In recent years, many general and comprehensive models of emergence have been formulated. However, they rarely consider the heterogeneity and contextual nature of emergent phenomena. In my project, therefore, I would like to formulate a particular model of emergence able to specifically describe complex biological systems. To do so, I will focus on two points. First, I will examine and suggest a revision of the theory of causation usually associated with emergence; secondly, I will clarify the scope of the notion of qualitative novelty, which corresponds to diversity and differentiation and plays an extremely important role in biology.


Onnis, E. (forthcoming 2021), Metafisica dell’emergenza. Torino, Rosenberg & Sellier.

Onnis, E. (2020), Emergencia e icnología ontológica. Hacia un textualismo metafísico. Estudios Filosóficos, 68(199): pp. 559-571.

Onnis, E. (2019), Parts, wholes and systems. The concept of emergence in Philosophy and Science. Philosophy Kitchen, 8(11), doi.org/10.13135/2385-1945/11.2019