Top-down causation without top-down causes

Biology and Philosophy 22 (4):547-563 (2007)
Authors
Carl F. Craver
Washington University in St. Louis
William Bechtel
University of California, San Diego
Abstract
We argue that intelligible appeals to interlevel causes (top-down and bottom-up) can be understood, without remainder, as appeals to mechanistically mediated effects. Mechanistically mediated effects are hybrids of causal and constitutive relations, where the causal relations are exclusively intralevel. The idea of causation would have to stretch to the breaking point to accommodate interlevel causes. The notion of a mechanistically mediated effect is preferable because it can do all of the required work without appealing to mysterious interlevel causes. When interlevel causes can be translated into mechanistically mediated effects, the posited relationship is intelligible and should raise no special philosophical objections. When they cannot, they are suspect.
Keywords Philosophy   Evolutionary Biology   Philosophy of Biology
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DOI 10.1007/s10539-006-9028-8
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References found in this work BETA

Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter K. Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Causation as Influence.David Lewis - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):182-197.

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Citations of this work BETA

Mechanism and Biological Explanation.William Bechtel - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (4):533-557.
Constitutive Relevance, Mutual Manipulability, and Fat-Handedness.Michael Baumgartner & Alexander Gebharter - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (3):731-756.
Mechanisms, Causes and the Layered Model of the World.Stuart Glennan - 2010 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (2):362-381.

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