, Volume 165, Issue 1, pp 53–75

Reductive levels and multi-scale structure


DOI: 10.1007/s11229-007-9232-3

Cite this article as:
McGivern, P. Synthese (2008) 165: 53. doi:10.1007/s11229-007-9232-3


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.


Levels Reduction Multi-scale models Composition Physicalism 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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