, Volume 165, Issue 1, pp 53-75

Reductive levels and multi-scale structure

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Abstract

I discuss arguments about the relationship between different “levels” of explanation in the light of examples involving multi-scale analysis. I focus on arguments about causal competition between properties at different levels, such as Jaegwon Kim’s “supervenience argument.” A central feature of Kim’s argument is that higher-level properties can in general be identified with “micro-based” properties. I argue that explanations from multi-scale analysis give examples of explanations that are problematic for accounts such as Kim’s. I argue that these difficulties suggest that some standard assumptions about causal competition need to be revised.