Philosophical and Scientific Perspectives on Downward Causation  book cover
1st Edition

Philosophical and Scientific Perspectives on Downward Causation

ISBN 9780367372309
Published July 12, 2019 by Routledge
340 Pages

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Book Description

Downward causation plays a fundamental role in many theories of metaphysics and philosophy of mind. It is strictly connected with many topics in philosophy, including but not limited to: emergence, mental causation, the nature of causation, the nature of causal powers and dispositions, laws of nature, and the possibility of ontological and epistemic reductions. Philosophical and Scientific Perspectives on Downward Causation brings together experts from different fields—including William Bechtel, Stewart Clark and Tom Lancaster, Carl Gillett, John Heil, Robin F. Hendry, Max Kistler, Stephen Mumford and Rani Lill Anjum —who delve into classic and unexplored lines of philosophical inquiry related to downward causation. It critically assesses the possibility of downward causation given different ontological assumptions and explores the connection between downward causation and the metaphysics of causation and dispositions. Finally, it presents different cases of downward causation in empirical fields such as physics, chemistry, biology and the neurosciences. This volume is both a useful introduction and a collection of original contributions on this fascinating and hotly debated philosophical topic.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Downward Causation: an Opinionated Introduction

Michele Paolini Paoletti and Francesco Orilia

Part I: Downward Causation and the Metaphysics of Causation

Chapter 2: Three Grades of Downward Causation

Francesco Orilia and Michele Paolini Paoletti

Chapter 3: Downward Causation

John Heil

Chapter 4: Higher Level, Downward and Specific Causation

Max Kistler

Chapter 5: Powers and Downward Causation

Erasmus Mayr

Chapter 6: Emergence and Demergence

Rani Lill Anjum and Stephen Mumford

Chapter 7: Power Mereology, Structural Powers versus Substantial Powers

Anna Marmodoro

Part II: Downward Causation and the Sciences

Chapter 8: The Use of Downward Causation in Condensed Matter Physics

Stewart J. Clark and Tom Lancaster

Chapter 9: Prospects for Strong Emergence in Chemistry

Robin F. Hendry

Chapter 10: Causality and Levels of Explanation in Biology

Marta Bertolaso and Marco Buzzoni

Chapter 11: The Interlacing of Upward and Downward Causation in Complex Living Systems. On Interactions, Self-Organization, Emergency and Wholeness

Luciano Boi

Chapter 12: Top-Down Causation in Biology and Neuroscience: Control Hierarchies

William Bechtel

Chapter 13: Early Complexity in Human Development

François Jouen and Michèle Molina

Chapter 14: Scientific Emergentism and Its Move Beyond (Direct) Downward Causation

Carl Gillett

Part III: Downward Causation, Mind and Agency

Chapter 15: The Mental Causation Debate and Qua Problems

Sophie C. Gibb

Chapter 16: Agent-Causation – Neither Upward Nor Downward

Uwe Meixner

Chapter 17 The Compatibility of Downward Causation and Emergence

Simone Cozzano

Chapter 18: The Views on Mental Downward Causation

Mario De Caro and Matteo Grasso

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Michele Paolini Paoletti is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Macerata (Italy). He has published articles and books on several ontological issues (including the theory of fictional objects, negative facts, relations), on physicalism and emergentism (for example, his recent "How Powers Emerge from Relations" on Axiomathes).

Francesco Orilia is a Professor of Logic and Philosophy of Language at the University of Macerata (Italy). His research focuses on ontology, logic, philosophy of language and mind. His recent publications include: Singular Reference. A Descriptivist Perspective (2010), "Positions, Ordering Relations, O-Roles" (2014), "Moderate Presentism" (2016).


"Paolini Paoletti and Orilia's anthology, comprising eighteen chapters from European and American metaphysicians, philosophers of mind, philosophers of science, and scientists, offers a good sense of where things stand together with some interesting suggestions on how to move forward . . . The essays by and large try to foster a conversation between metaphysics and philosophy of science, to the benefit of both fields." -- Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews