Levels

Abstract
Natural realism is the view that there is a real, metaphysical distinction between those properties, perhaps like being a quark, that are natural kinds and those, perhaps like being either red or round that are not. This is a fairly respectable doctrine, though by no means universally accepted. Perhaps slightly less well entrenched is the idea that there is a relation of causal relevance that sometimes holds between a property of a cause and a property of an effect. If causation is a relation between tokens, causal relevance is a relation between types. Finally, there’s the idea that there are many levels. Sometimes, people will talk about the relation between the mental level and the biological or physical level without meaning too much by this. But the straight-faced suggestion that levels are mind-independent features of reality will occasionally raise a skeptical eyebrow. It may be that anyone suspicious about any of these three ideas is suspicious of them all. This is as it should be. I don’t say this because I think the three characters are maximally suspicious, but because the three form a tightly knit family that to a certain extent stand or fall together. If there are natural kinds, then there are real resemblances, or objective similarities between members of those kinds. But not just any similarity counts. There’s at least one respect in which anything three miles from a burning barn is similar to anything else three miles from a burning barn. The similarities that count as far as natural kinds are concerned are causal similarities. Being a member of a natural kind must make a difference to your causal interactions. But the idea of a feature that makes a difference to your causal interactions just is the idea of a causally relevant feature. If you put the white ball into the pocket of an ordinary pool table in a bar, it will come..
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