On physicalism and downward causation in developmental and cancer biology

Acta Biotheoretica 56 (4):257-274 (2008)
The dominant position in Philosophy of Science contends that downward causation is an illusion. Instead, we argue that downward causation doesn’t introduce vicious circles either in physics or in biology. We also question the metaphysical claim that “physical facts fix all the facts.” Downward causation does not imply any contradiction if we reject the assumption of the completeness and the causal closure of the physical world that this assertion contains. We provide an argument for rejecting this assumption. Furthermore, this allows us to reconsider the concept of diachronic emergence.
Keywords Philosophy   Evolutionary Biology   Philosophy of Biology
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DOI 10.1007/s10441-008-9052-y
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Claus Emmeche, Simo Koppe & Frederick Stjernfelt (2000). Levels, Emergence, and Three Versions of Downward Causation. In P.B. Andersen, Claus Emmeche, N.O. Finnemann & P.V. Christiansen (eds.), Downward Causation. Aarhus, Denmark: University of Aarhus Press 322-348.
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