Biological Theory 9 (2):209-220 (2014)

In this article we argue that the classical—linear and bottom-up directed—models of causation in biology, and the ‘‘proximate/ultimate’’ dichotomy, are inappropriate to capture the complexity inherent to biological processes. We introduce a new notion of ‘‘multilevel causation’’ where old dichotomies such as proximate/ultimate and bottom-up/ top-down are reinterpreted within a multilevel, web-like, approach. In briefly reviewing some recent work on complexity, EvoDevo, carcinogenesis, autocatalysis, comparative genomics, animal regeneration, phenotypic plasticity, and niche construction, we will argue that such reinterpretation is a necessary step for the advancement of the ‘‘Extended Synthesis.’’.
Keywords Multilevel causation  Extended Synthesis  Bottom-up approach  Proximate/ultimate dichotomy  Causation in biology
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DOI 10.1007/s13752-014-0161-3
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The Dialectical Biologist.Richard Levins - 1985 - Harvard University Press.

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