SOPhiA 2022

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Productive Higher-Level Causation Without Mechanisms
(Philosophy of Science, English)

In this paper I argue for a productive theory of higher-level causation without reference to mechanisms to meet the common objection of circularity against mechanistic theories. Mechanistic theories of causation, like pursued by Glennan, are often considered as a promising productive alternative or supplement to conserved quantity theories of causation which also covers higher-level causal relationships. However, despite their recent success, mechanistic theories of causation face the threat of circularity as the concept of mechanism is itself a causal concept. To avoid this problem, I reconsider the general structure of conserved quantity theories, which mechanistic theories are often considered extensions of and which are not at risk of circularity. I deduce from this general structure that we should consider productive causation also on higher levels as mere sequences of changes of higher-level structures which are connected by processes that consist in the preservation of higher-level structures. However, we still have to guarantee that, in fact, the result of the higher-level changes is preserved in the processes and not just any higher-level structure. Therefore, I further argue that the structure changing events and the structure preserving processes, in turn, are connected through lower-level causal relationships instead of the mechanisms which comprise the events and processes.

Chair: Maren Bräutigam
Time: 15:20-15:50, 07 September 2022 (Wednesday)
Location: SR 1.004

Martin Voggenauer 
(University of Cologne, Germany)



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