The subject of interlevel relations concerns the connection between items described by different sciences, from high-level human sciences down to fundamental-level physics. More specifically, philosophers distinguish inter-level relations from purely same-level or intra-level causal relations. For example, the question is not “how does activity in a visual input system cause events in a downstream face-recognition device within the mind?” That is an intra-level question about mental-to-mental causation, and one can answer it by staying within the confines of a psychological theory. Rather, the question is something like “how do neuro-physical parts of the brain realize a face-recognition device?” That is an inter-level question about a neurological-to-mental relation, and one can answer it only by joining items in psychology with those of neuroscience. Philosophers also analyze these inter-level relations in terms of concepts like identity and reduction, or different forms of emergence and supervenience, or part-whole mechanistic relations, or different kinds of realization relations.
|Key works||Regarding the notion of levels in science, Craver 2007 provides a good discussion of the difference between levels understood in terms of parts for mechanisms versus such things as part-whole composition, mere aggregation, and spatial containment. For discussion of the difference between theories about inter-level causal transitions versus inter-level property instantiation or realization relations, see also Cummins 1983, Craver & Bechtel 2007, and the recent anthology Brooks et al 2021. For reduction, important ideas includes reduction as a derivation by bridge principles (Nagel 1961), approximate reduction (Schaffner 1967), an expanded continuum of strong to weak reduction that advertises no bridge laws (Churchland 1979; Hooker 1981; Bickle 1997; Endicott 1998), compositional or mechanistic reduction (Wimsatt 1976; Rosenberg 2006; Bechtel 2007), and functional reduction (Kim 1998; Marras 2002). For emergence, there are views that involve epistemic, metaphysical, synchronic, and diachronic ideas (McLaughlin 1992; Wimsatt 1997; Humphreys 2008; Wilson 2015), as well as issues about actual cases in the sciences (Batterman 2001; Davies 2006). For supervenience, there are weak, strong, global, and mereological varieties (Kim 1993; Horgan 1993; McLaughlin 1995; Paull & Sider 1992), as well as debates over their significance for issues of explanation and dependence (Grimes 1988; Bennett 2004) and their adequacy to express a doctrine of physicalism (Wilson 2005). For realization, the are accounts in terms of functional roles and occupation (Papineau 1993; Melnyk 1994; Kim 1998), parts and wholes of mechanisms (Cummins 1983; Gillett 2002; Craver 2007), determinables and determinates (MacDonald & MacDonald 1986; Yablo 1992; Wilson 2009), and subsets of causal powers (Wilson 1999, 2011; Shoemaker 2001, 2007). There is also an interesting discussion of inter-level explanation in terms of why questions and answers by grounds in Skow 2016.|
|Introductions||Some works have a fairly broad scope, encompassing several of the views just mentioned. See Beckermann et al 1992; van Gulick 2001; and Kim 2003.|
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David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Darrell P. Rowbottom
Aness Kim Webster
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