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A dynamical systems approach to causation

  • Peter FazekasEmail author
  • Balázs Gyenis
  • Gábor Hofer-Szabó
  • Gergely Kertész


Our approach aims at accounting for causal claims in terms of how the physical states of the underlying dynamical system evolve with time. Causal claims assert connections between two sets of physicals states—their truth depends on whether the two sets in question are genuinely connected by time evolution such that physical states from one set evolve with time into the states of the other set. We demonstrate the virtues of our approach by showing how it is able to account for typical causes, causally relevant factors, being ‘the’ cause, and cases of overdetermination and causation by absences.


Causation Physical causation, folk causation, dynamical systems State space Time evolution 



The authors wish to thank Jonas Christensen, Matteo Colombo, Markus Eronen, Robin Hendry, Andreas Hüttemann, Beate Krickel, Mark Pexton, Stathis Psillos, Miklós Rédei, two anonymous referees for this journal, and all the members of the audience at the workshops and conferences in Aarhus, Budapest, Cambridge, Durham, Düsseldorf, Groningen, Krakow, Lille and London for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper.


This work has been supported by the FWO Postdoctoral Fellowship 1.2.B39.14 N and the DFF-EU MCA-COFUND Mobilex Grant 1321-00165 (PF); the National Research, Development and Innovation Office K-115593 (BGy and GH-Sz); the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund OTKA K-100715 (GH-Sz); and the Durham Emergence Project and the MTA BTK ‘Lendulet’ Morals and Science Research Group (GK).


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Philosophical PsychologyUniversity of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium
  2. 2.Center of Functionally Integrative NeuroscienceAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark
  3. 3.Department of PhilosophyLogic and Scientific Method, LSELondonUK
  4. 4.Institute of Philosophy, Hungarian Academy of SciencesBudapestHungary
  5. 5.Department of PhilosophyDurham UniversityDurhamUK

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