The Metaphysics of Reductions and Causal Explanations in Biological Sciences (completed)

Reduction and higher-level causation are two central and recurrent topics in contemporary philosophy of biology. There is relatively broad consensus that higher-level explanations are heuristically useful and that higher-level explanations and theories don’t translate directly into lower-level explanations and theories. Despite this, there is not a broad consensus when it comes to the understanding of levels and of the nature of causal relations.

About the project

The primary focus of this project is to develop a metaphysical understanding of levels, and thereby to provide a philosophical backdrop for an empirically influenced account of higher-level causation. This naturally leads into discussions of a range of issues. Among these are:

  1. What are the relata of causal relations; events, properties, objects, or perhaps variables?
  2. Is causation a binary relation, or does it involve e.g. contrastive elements?
  3. Emergence; are there higher-level phenomena that are emergent from, but not reducible to, lower-level phenomena?
  4. What relation generates the level-hierarchy?
Published Apr. 22, 2010 11:45 AM - Last modified May 7, 2014 3:21 PM