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Top-down Causation in Natural Sciences

Top-down Causation in Natural Sciences

Gennaro Auletta, “Top-down Causation in Natural Sciences,” in The Insides of Nature: Causality and Conceptions of Nature, ed. Álvaro Balsas and Bruno Nobre, Axioma Studies in Philosophy of Nature and in Philosophy and History of Science 4 (Braga: Axioma - Publicações da Faculdade de Filosofia, 2020), 57–70,

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Top-down Causation in Natural Sciences

Type Book Section
Editor Álvaro Balsas
Editor Bruno Nobre
Author Gennaro Auletta
Rights © 2020 Aletheia - Associação Científica e Cultural
Series Axioma Studies in Philosophy of Nature and in Philosophy and History of Science
Place Braga
Publisher Axioma - Publicações da Faculdade de Filosofia
Pages 57-70
ISBN 978-972-697-319-5
Date 2020
Series Number 4
Language English
Abstract The issue of causality is a longstanding controversial object of discussion. In ancient times Aristotle tried to cover the multitude of aspects empirical observed with the doctrine of four causes. In modern times, the arising (and astonishing progresses) of classical mechanics reduced all causes to the mechanical (efficient) ones. The 20th century, with the novelties represented by quantum mechanics, science of complexity and chaotic systems, reopened the discussion as far as in all these cases the notion of long-ranging correlations is crucial. Now, it turns out that correlations of this kind are a special case of the formal causes envisaged by Aristotle. Moreover, progresses in biology and neurosciences, especially towards the end of last century, raised the problem of goals and especially of top-down causation, and thus of causal processes broadly included in Aristotle’s notion of final causes. It is time for a new and objective assessment of this problem. I shall in particular focus on the arising and basic mechanism of top-down processes.
Book Title The Insides of Nature: Causality and Conceptions of Nature
Date Added 6/4/2020, 3:08:29 PM
Modified 6/4/2020, 3:18:21 PM


  • causality,
  • cause,
  • History of Science
  • metaphysics
  • metaphysics,
  • Philosophy of Nature
  • Philosophy of Physics
  • philosophy of science
  • philosophy of science,
  • top-down causality


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