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Downward Causation and Levels

Woodward, James (2020) Downward Causation and Levels. [Preprint]

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Abstract

This chapter discusses a number of different notions of level, including levels as involving compositional relations and levels as relatively explanatorily autonomous. The notion of downward causation, understood as causation from upper to lower levels, is defended as legitimate. Downward causation is elucidated in terms of a relation called conditional causal independence: X is causally independent of Y conditional on Z when X is causally relevant (in the standard interventionist sense) to Z, Y is causally relevant to Z but conditional on the values of Z, changes in the value of X make no further difference to Y. When Y is a lower-level realizer of X and conditional independence holds, we can use Y rather than X to explain Z and the Y to Z relation is conditionally autonomous from X-level facts.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Woodward, James
Keywords: downward causation, conditional independence, autonomy, interventionism
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Depositing User: Jim Woodward
Date Deposited: 18 Aug 2020 21:10
Last Modified: 18 Aug 2020 21:10
Item ID: 18004
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Date: August 2020
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/18004

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