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

Biology and Philosophy 25 (3):287-318 (2010)

Authors
James Woodward
University of Pittsburgh
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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Reprint years 2010
DOI 10.1007/s10539-010-9200-z
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References found in this work BETA

Causation as Influence.David K. Lewis - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):182-197.
Mental Causation.Stephen Yablo - 1992 - Philosophical Review 101 (2):245-280.
Causes That Make a Difference.C. Kenneth Waters - 2007 - Journal of Philosophy 104 (11):551-579.

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Citations of this work BETA

High-Level Explanation and the Interventionist’s ‘Variables Problem’.L. R. Franklin-Hall - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (2):553-577.
The Problem of Variable Choice.James Woodward - 2016 - Synthese 193 (4):1047-1072.
Is Meta-Analysis the Platinum Standard of Evidence?Jacob Stegenga - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 42 (4):497-507.

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