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Making Sense of Downward Causation in Manipulationism. With Illustrations from Cancer Research

Malaterre, Christophe (2011) Making Sense of Downward Causation in Manipulationism. With Illustrations from Cancer Research. [Preprint]

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Many researchers consider cancer to have molecular causes, namely mutated genes that result in abnormal cell proliferation (e.g. Weinberg 1998); yet for others, the causes of cancer are to be found not at the molecular level but at the tissue level and carcinogenesis would consist in a disrupted tissue organization with downward causation effects on cells and cellular components (e.g. Sonnenschein & Soto 2008). In this contribution, I ponder how to make sense of such downward causation claims. Adopting a manipulationist account of causation (Woodward 2003), I propose a formal definition of downward causation, and discuss further requirements (in light of Baumgartner 2009). I then show that such an account cannot be mobilized in support of non-reductive physicalism (contrary to Raatikainen 2010). However, I also argue that such downward causation claims might point at particularly interesting dynamic properties of causal relationships that might prove salient in characterizing causal relationships (following Woodward 2010).

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Item Type: Preprint
Malaterre, Christophe
Keywords: Downward causation, manipulationism, levels of causation, causal granularity, cancer research
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
General Issues > Causation
Depositing User: Christophe Malaterre
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2011 11:38
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2013 11:56
Item ID: 8856

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