Reduction, Autonomy, and Causal Exclusion among Physical Properties

Synthese 139 (1):1 - 21 (2004)
Is there a problem of causal exclusion between micro- and macro-level physical properties? I argue (following Kim) that the sorts of properties that in fact are in competition are macro properties, viz., the property of a (macro-) system of 'having such-and-such macro properties' (call this a 'macro-structural property') and the property of the same system of 'being constituted by such-and-such a micro- structure' (call this a 'micro-structural property'). I show that there are cases where, for lack of reducibility, there is a prima facie intra-level causal competition between the two kinds of properties. The problem can be resolved without giving up on the causal efficacy of the macro-structural properties if we understand instances of macro-structural properties to be parts of micro-structural property instances. The parthood relation between both kinds of property instances can be mapped onto the way physical theory deals with the relation of their descriptions in the framework of perturbation theory. The application of this framework to the problem of emergent properties is discussed
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Logic   Metaphysics   Philosophy of Language
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DOI 10.2307/20118405
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