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Multiple Realizability from a Causal Perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022


This article examines the multiple realizability thesis within a causal framework. The beginnings of this framework are found in Elliott Sober’s “Multiple Realizability Argument against Reduction,” which argues that the multiple realizability thesis poses no challenge to reductive explanation. While Sober’s causal approach has the potential to reveal new insights, I argue that his setup fails to capture important aspects of the multiple realizability thesis. After correcting for these issues, I argue that this causal framework reveals something quite different. It reveals how multiple realizability relates to a common type of causal complexity in biology that poses problems for reductive explanation.

Research Article
Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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I would like to thank Elliott Sober for helpful feedback on this article.


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