Any investigation of the relationship between wholes and parts much face the concept of emergence, but that concept has a chequered history in both philosophy and science. The talk will illustrate a pluralistic and pragmatic way to evaluate concepts of emergence, and then evaluate a number of familiar conceptions of emergence. It will focus on weak emergence, which is a hallmark of what we can call “complex wholes”, which are composed of nothing but certain parts organized in certain ways, and their behaviour is nothing but the organized activity of their parts, yet their underlying causal network is highly parallel, nonlinear, and synergistic, so that the behaviour of wholes cannot be derived from the behaviour of isolated parts. Complex wholes evoke terms like “holism”, “surplus”, “synergy”, “situatedness”, and “activity”. Bedau will examine three kinds of complex wholes involving life: (1) a verbal Program-Metabolism-Container model of the origin of minimal chemical life, (2) a precise computational system that exhibits life-like global behaviour, and (3) the wet experiments in bottom-up synthetic biology laboratories that combine nonliving materials to create new and unfamiliar forms of life (or "protocols").