Erkenntnis 78 (2):153-178 (2013)

Leonardo Bich
University of the Basque Country
Matteo Mossio
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
In this paper, we advocate the idea that an adequate explanation of biological systems requires appealing to organizational closure as an emergent causal regime. We first develop a theoretical justification of emergence in terms of relatedness, by arguing that configurations, because of the relatedness among their constituents, possess ontologically irreducible properties, providing them with distinctive causal powers. We then focus on those emergent causal powers exerted as constraints, and we claim that biological systems crucially differ from other natural systems in that they realize a closure of constraints, i.e. a second-order emergent regime of causation such that the constituents, each of them acting as a constraint, realize a mutual dependence among them, and are collectively able to self-maintain. Lastly, we claim that closure can be justifiably taken as an emergent regime of causation, without admitting that it inherently involves whole-parts causation, which would require to commit to stronger ontological and epistemological assumptions
Keywords constraints
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10670-013-9507-7
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,226
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

View all 54 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

View all 19 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Emergent Causation.Simon Prosser - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 159 (1):21-39.
Emergence, Downwards Causation and the Completeness of Physics.David Yates - 2009 - Philosophical Quarterly 59 (234):110-131.
Emergentism, Irreducibility, and Downward Causation.Achim Stephan - 2002 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 65 (1):77-93.
Emergence, Supervenience, and Realization.Rex Welshon - 2002 - Philosophical Studies 108 (1-2):39-51.
Emergence, Epiphenomenalism and Consciousness.William E. Seager - 2006 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 13 (1-2):21-38.
An Organizational Account of Biological Functions.Matteo Mossio, Cristian Saborido & Alvaro Moreno - 2009 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (4):813-841.
Emergence in Physics.Patrick McGivern & Alexander Rueger - 2010 - In Antonella Corradini & Timothy O'Connor (eds.), Emergence in Science and Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 213-232.
The Causal Autonomy of the Special Sciences.Peter Menzies & Christian List - 2010 - In Cynthia Mcdonald & Graham Mcdonald (eds.), Emergence in Mind. Oxford University Press. pp. 108-129.
Mental Causation in a Physical World.Eric Marcus - 2005 - Philosophical Studies 122 (1):27-50.


Added to PP index

Total views
119 ( #97,182 of 2,499,723 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #139,292 of 2,499,723 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes