SOPhiA 2021

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Explaining causation in international migration with a complex-system approach
(Philosophy of Science, )

One problem in international migration stems from its causal complexity: There are many varying conditions that drive migration. Given we observe specific migration flows, it is puzzling to attribute the numbers we observe to specific economic, political, social, demographic, and environmental factors. Also, there appears to be different levels (viz. micro-, meso- and macro-level) at which causation can be operating. One can argue that causes must be attributed at the level of agents, - the micro-level, - with respect to their personal characteristics and life histories. One could also argue that causation operates at the meso-level, - the sphere where the community has direct influence on the decisions of other agents. Finally, one can defend the idea that only large-scale systemic factors can account for the specific magnitude of macro-level flows we observe. That being said, the objective of my contribution is to explain how a complex-system approach can help to make progress in the understanding of causation in migration. Since the features of complex-systems are considered to be the result of the exchanges and responses of their elements, a complex-system approach has the potential of bridging the gap between the large-scale systemic behaviour we observe and the interactions between agents from which they emerge. Accordingly, by describing typical features including causal forcings, self-organisation and collective adaptive behaviour, it can help explain why there is multi-level causation between agents, communities and general systemic behaviour. In that contribution, I explain why we can consider migration as a complex system, and I spell out what we need to theorize causation in migration with a complex-system approach. My proposal is the following: First, we need Agent-Based Models (ABMs) that represent the elements, interactions and decisions that lead to migration; second, we need a general causal account that conceptualises the feedbacks between different levels of causation in a given system. All in all, my proposal indicates one response to the problem of causation in migration science.


Chair: Andelija Milic
Time: 15:20-15:50, 09 September 2021 (Thursday)
Location: SR 1.006

Gregorie Dupuis-Mc Donald 
(University of Salzburg, Austria)

I am a Phd candidate at the University of Salzburg. I study philosophy of science, with a focus on the theory of complex-systems and its philosophical issues. Presently, I do research on core methodological problems in migration science. In addition, I have a general interest for philosophy of physics; I am an enthusiast of the theories of spacetime, cosmology and astrophysics. My general academic objective is to make contributions to my field of research. After my Phd, I would like to obtain a research position in order to further develop my knowledge and abilities.



I was born in Quebec city, Canada, and I graduated there with a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in philosophy from Laval University. During those years, I visited the University of Mainz, and the University of Konstanz. I decided to move to Salzburg because I was convinced I would find the appropriate academic community to further develop my skills and interests. I always look forward to participate in academic conferences; my main motivation is to share my ideas, defend my views, and receive feedbacks and critical comments. Naturally, I always search for inspiration from other presenters, and grasp every chance to make new professional contacts, and friends. I spend constant efforts on publishing my research because I believe my perspective can stimulate and advance the debates I am engaged in.

That being said, I love sports. I play soccer, I like hiking and cycling, and I practice horseback riding.



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