Causation happens between Systems demarcated by System Boundaries, horizontally as well as vertically.
Since The world is a hierarchy of systems, the question then is on which level of the hierarchy to locate specific instances of causation.
Top-down Reductionism claims that this is always the micro-level.
According to causal emergence, however, the causation happens at
the level of the hierarchy where
Models have the
most causal information, i.e. provide a description of
Structure that is most resistant against noise, most independent
from implementation details, and tracking features of the system’s
most usefully. This is not necessarily the micro-level – it can by
any level of the hierarchy.Hoel et al. (2013), Hoel (2017a, 2017b, 2017c)
The best explanation for such epistemic success is (the ontological
fact) that these models track real system boundaries, i.e. describe
real things.A consequence of this view is that, contra Dennett
(1991) and Dewhurst (2020), the patterns tracked on the various levels
of reality are entities existing in their own right, not just useful
groupings of real entities (e.g. subatomic particles). Friston (2018),
Hemp et al. (2019) and Ramstead et al. (2019) implicitly use causal
emergence in this strong sense.
In other words, causation emerges when Systems emerge due to constraints.
- DeLanda (2011): “Emergence, Causality and Realism”
- Dennett (1991), “Real Patterns”
- Dewhurst, J. (2020), “Causal Emergence and Real Patterns”
- Friston (2018): “A free energy principle for a particular physics”
- Hemp et al. (2019), “A multi-scale view of the emergent complexity of life: A free-energy proposal”
- Hoel et al. (2013), “Quantifying causal emergence shows that macro can beat micro”
- Hoel (2017a), “When the Map Is Better Than the Territory”
- Hoel (2017b), “Agent above, atom below. How agents causally emerge from their underlying microphysics”
- Hoel (2017c), “A primer on causal emergence”
- Ramstead et al. (2019): “Multiscale integration: beyond internalism and externalism”