Emergence and Morphogenesis: Causal Reduction and Downward Causation?

  • Tony LawsonEmail author


What is the relation between the causal powers of complex systems and those of their organised components? Whilst causal reductionists tend to contend that the former powers can be accounted for in terms of the latter, certain advocates of downward causation have it that causal powers of systems can act back on their own components. Focussing upon processes whereby systems are actually formed, I question both of these contentions. Typically missing from arguments for both, I argue, is an adequate analysis of the manner in which the components of a system are organised in relation to each other, and indeed of the causal contribution of any such organising relations.


Causal powers of complex systems Emergence and morphogenesis Organising relations 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EconomicsUniversity of Cambridge, G.BCambridgeUK

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