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Emergence, closure and inter-level causation in biological systems

Mossio, Matteo and Bich, Leonardo and Moreno, Alvaro (2013) Emergence, closure and inter-level causation in biological systems. Erkenntnis, 78 (2). pp. 153-178. ISSN 0165-0106

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Abstract

In this paper, we advocate the idea that an adequate explanation of biological systems requires appealing to organisational closure as an emergent causal regime. We first develop a theoretical justification of emergence in terms of relatedness, by arguing that configurations, because of the relatedness among their constituents, possess ontologically irreducible properties, providing them with distinctive causal powers. We then focus on those emergent causal powers exerted as constraints, and we claim that biological systems crucially differ from other natural systems in that they realise a closure of constraints, i.e. a higher-level emergent regime of causation such that the constituents, each of them acting as a constraint, realise a mutual dependence among them, and are collectively able to self-maintain. Lastly, we claim that closure can be justifiably taken as an emergent regime of causation, without admitting that it inherently involves whole-parts causation, which would require committing to stronger ontological and epistemological assumptions


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Mossio, Matteo
Bich, Leonardoleonardo.bich@ehu.es
Moreno, Alvaro
Keywords: Emergence; biological organisation; downward causation; constraints
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Complex Systems
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Depositing User: Dr. Leonardo Bich
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2016 18:46
Last Modified: 13 Feb 2016 18:46
Item ID: 11907
Journal or Publication Title: Erkenntnis
Publisher: Springer (Springer Science+Business Media B.V.)
Official URL: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10670-01...
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1007/s10670-013-9507-7
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Complex Systems
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Date: 2013
Page Range: pp. 153-178
Volume: 78
Number: 2
ISSN: 0165-0106
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/11907

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