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.
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    References found in this work BETA
    John Campbell (2006). Manipulating Colour: Pounding an Almond. In T. S. Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Perceptual Experience. Oup. 31--48.
    DM Hausman & J. Woodward (1999). Independence, Invariance and the Causal Markov Condition. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 50 (4):521-583.
    Austin Bradford Hill (1965). The Environment and Disease: Association or Causation? Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine 58:295-300.
    I. Kvart (2001). Lewis's 'Causation as Influence'. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 79 (3):409 – 421.

    View all 15 references

    Citations of this work BETA
    Jacob Stegenga (2011). Is Meta-Analysis the Platinum Standard of Evidence? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 42 (4):497-507.
    Markus Eronen (2012). Pluralistic Physicalism and the Causal Exclusion Argument. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (2):219-232.

    View all 16 citations

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