Functional stability and systems level causation

Philosophy of Science 76 (5):809-820 (2009)
A wide range of gene knockout experiments shows that functional stability is an important feature of biological systems. On this backdrop, we present an argument for higher‐level causation based on counterfactual dependence. Furthermore, we sketch a metaphysical picture providing resources to explain the metaphysical nature of functional stability, higher‐level causation, and the relevant notion of levels. Our account aims to clarify the role empirical results and philosophical assumptions should play in debates about reductionism and higher‐level causation. It thereby contributes to the development of a philosophical foundation for systems biology. †To contact the authors, please write to: CSMN/IFIKK, University of Oslo, Box 1020 Blindern, N‐0315, Oslo, Norway; e‐mail: ,
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1086/605811
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 21,357
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Stephen Yablo (1992). Mental Causation. Philosophical Review 101 (2):245-280.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Bruce Wilson (2013). Metaphysics and Medical Education: Taking Holism Seriously. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 19 (3):478-484.
Kari L. Theurer (2014). Complexity-Based Theories of Emergence: Criticisms and Constraints. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 28 (3):277-301.
Gry Oftedal & Veli-Pekka Parkkinen (2013). Synthetic Biology and Genetic Causation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (2):208-216.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Brad Weslake (forthcoming). A Partial Theory of Actual Causation. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
Daniel A. Weiskopf (2011). The Functional Unity of Special Science Kinds. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (2):233 - 258.
John L. Tienson (2002). Higher-Order Causation. Grazer Philosophische Studien 63 (1):89-101.
Lynne Rudder Baker (1993). Metaphysics and Mental Causation. In John Heil & Alfred R. Mele (eds.), Mental Causation. Oxford University Press 75-96.
Robert C. Richardson (1982). Grades of Organization and the Units of Selection Controversy. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1982:324 - 340.
Wim de Muijnck (2004). Two Types of Mental Causation. Philosophical Explorations 7 (1):21-35.
Stuart Glennan (2010). Mechanisms, Causes, and the Layered Model of the World. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (2):362-381.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

94 ( #45,216 of 1,911,325 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #455,910 of 1,911,325 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.