Top-down causation without top-down causes

Biology and Philosophy 22 (4):547-563 (2007)
We argue that intelligible appeals to interlevel causes (top-down and bottom-up) can be understood, without remainder, as appeals to mechanistically mediated effects. Mechanistically mediated effects are hybrids of causal and constitutive relations, where the causal relations are exclusively intralevel. The idea of causation would have to stretch to the breaking point to accommodate interlevel causes. The notion of a mechanistically mediated effect is preferable because it can do all of the required work without appealing to mysterious interlevel causes. When interlevel causes can be translated into mechanistically mediated effects, the posited relationship is intelligible and should raise no special philosophical objections. When they cannot, they are suspect.
Keywords Philosophy   Evolutionary Biology   Philosophy of Biology
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DOI 10.1007/s10539-006-9028-8
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References found in this work BETA
Phil Dowe (2000). Physical Causation. Cambridge University Press.
David Lewis (2000). Causation as Influence. Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):182-197.

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Citations of this work BETA
Stuart Glennan (2010). Mechanisms, Causes, and the Layered Model of the World. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (2):362-381.
Cory D. Wright (2012). Mechanistic Explanation Without the Ontic Conception. European Journal of Philosophy of Science 2 (3):375-394.

View all 55 citations / Add more citations

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