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downward causationAbwärtskausalität (ger.)

  • The alleged causal influence of higher-level phenomena on lower-level processes, a notable example being the supposed causation of the physical by the mental. (Oxford Dict. of Philosophy 2005)

    (Downward causation) Where natural selection operates through life and death at a higher level of organisation, the laws of the higher-level selective system determine in part the distribution of lower-level events and substances. […] The ‘causation’ is downward only if substantial extents of time, covering several reproductive generations, are lumped as one instant for purpose of analysis.

    Campbell, D.T. (1974). “Downward causation” in hierarchically organised biological systems. In: Ayala, F.J. & Dobzhansky, T. (eds.). Studies in the Philosophy of Biology, 179-186: 180.


    Downward causation as the core of living organization

    Moreno, A. & Umerez, J. (2000). Downward causation as the core of living organization. In: Andersen, P.B. et al. (eds.). Downward Causation. Minds, Bodies and Matter, 99-117.


    Der strukturierende Einfluss, den ein lebendiges System auf seine Teile ausübt, lässt sich als formierende oder auch „abwärts“-Kausalität (top-down-Kausalität) bezeichnen […]. Makro-Strukturen können durchaus formierende oder ordnende Wirkungen gegenüber den Mikro-Elementen entfalten, in denen sie strukturell realisiert sind (entsprechend der causa formalis).

    Fuchs, T. (2010). Das Gehirn – ein Beziehungsorgan. Eine phänomenologisch-ökologische Konzeption, 3rd ed.: 122.   

Petersen, A.F. (1983). On downward causation in biological and behavioural systems. Hist. Philos. Life Sci. 5, 69-86.

Kim, J. (1992). “Downward causation” in emergentism and nonreductive physicalism. In: Beckermann, A., Flohr, H. & Kim, J. (eds.). Emergence or Reduction? Essays on the Prospects of Nonreductive Physicalism, 119-138.

El-Hani, C.N. & Emmeche, C. (2000). On some theoretical grounds for an organism-centered biology: property emergence, supervenience, and downward causation. Theory in Biosciences 119, 234-275.

Andersen, P.B. et al. (eds.) (2000). Downward Causation. Minds, Bodies and Matter.

Hulswit, M. (2005). How causal is downward causation? Journal for General Philosophy of Science 36, 261-287.