Causation in biology: Stability, specificity, and the choice of levels of explanation

Biology and Philosophy 25 (3):287-318 (2010)
Abstract
This paper attempts to elucidate three characteristics of causal relationships that are important in biological contexts. Stability has to do with whether a causal relationship continues to hold under changes in background conditions. Proportionality has to do with whether changes in the state of the cause “line up” in the right way with changes in the state of the effect and with whether the cause and effect are characterized in a way that contains irrelevant detail. Specificity is connected both to David Lewis’ notion of “influence” and also with the extent to which a causal relation approximates to the ideal of one cause–one effect. Interrelations among these notions and their possible biological significance are also discussed.
Keywords Philosophy   Evolutionary Biology   Philosophy of Biology
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DOI 10.1007/s10539-010-9200-z
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References found in this work BETA
Stephen Yablo (1992). Mental Causation. Philosophical Review 101 (2):245-280.
David Lewis (2000). Causation as Influence. Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):182-197.
Sandra D. Mitchell (2009). Unsimple Truths: Science, Complexity, and Policy. The University of Chicago Press Chicago and London.
C. Kenneth Waters (2007). Causes That Make a Difference. Journal of Philosophy 104 (11):551-579.

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Citations of this work BETA
Brett Calcott (2014). Engineering and Evolvability. Biology and Philosophy 29 (3):293-313.
Jacob Stegenga (2011). Is Meta-Analysis the Platinum Standard of Evidence? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 42 (4):497-507.

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