How Causal is Downward Causation?

Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 36 (2):261-287 (2005)
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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to lay bare the major problems underlying the concept of downward causation as discussed within the perspective of the present interest for phenomena that are characterized by self-organization. In our discussion of the literature, we have focussed on two questions: (1) What sorts of things are said to be, respectively, causing and caused within the context of downward causation? And (2) What is the meaning of ‘causing’ in downward causation? We have concluded that the concept of ‘downward causation’ is muddled with regard to the meaning of causation and fuzzy with regard to the nature of the causes and the effects. Moreover, we have concluded that ‘causation’ in respect of ‘downward causation’ is usually understood in terms of explanation and determination rather than in terms of causation in the sense of ‘bringing about’. Thus, the term ‘downward causation’ is badly chosen.

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Citations of this work

Levels of Organization in Biology.Markus Eronen & Daniel Stephen Brooks - unknown - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Elder-Vass on the Causal Power of Social Structures.Tobias Hansson Wahlberg - 2014 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 44 (6):774-791.
Sixteen Years Later: Making Sense of Emergence (Again).Olivier Sartenaer - 2016 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 47 (1):79-103.

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