1st Edition

Philosophical and Scientific Perspectives on Downward Causation

Edited By Michele Paolini Paoletti, Francesco Orilia Copyright 2017
    340 Pages
    by Routledge

    340 Pages
    by Routledge

    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.

    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


    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