Call for Papers

The aim of this conference is to investigate epistemological, metaphysical and conceptual aspects of causality in the sciences dealing with complex systems. We invite submissions of abstracts (800-1000 words) focusing on the following questions regarding the relationships between causality and complexity:

1. Conceptual Issues Regarding Complexity and Causation

  • What is an adequate explication of complexity?
  • Which lessons can we learn from a particular explication of complexity regarding our concept of causality?
  • What is causal complexity? Is it a genuine kind of complexity? How does it differ from other notions of complexity?

2. Complexity, Causality and Scientific Explanation

  • Can the behavior of a complex system be explained in terms of its parts and their interactions?
  • Are the explanations of the behavior of complex systems typically mechanistic explanations or, more generally, causal explanations? Or do they constitute a distinct kind of non-mechanistic or non-causal explanation (e.g., mathematical explanations)?
  • Which role do idealizations and “ignoring causal details” play in the explanation of the behavior of a complex system?
  • Do causal explanations of complex behaviors pose a challenge to received views of scientific understanding?

3. Complexity, Causation, and Emergence

  • Is the macro-behavior of complex systems emergent?
  • If so, is emergence to be understood as an epistemic or as a metaphysical phenomenon?
  • Are causal facts about complex systems typically emergent facts?
  • Do the insights in the causal structure of complex systems require that received philosophical assumptions about causation (e.g. the non-existence of downward causation) ought to be revised?

4. Epistemic Strategies for Dealing with (Causal) Complexity

  • How do scientists in different fields deal with the (causal) complexity of the subjects they investigate? Can there be identified general, trans-disciplinary such strategies (e.g., reductionistic methods, randomized controlled trials, experiments, computational strategies, simulations, etc.)?
  • How can the adequacy of such strategies be assessed?
  • Does the application of such strategies give rise to certain kinds of explanation?

Note: We would like to emphasize that submissions dealing with the interplay of causality and complexity will be preferred to submissions addressing only either one of the topics.

Important Dates

Deadline for submission: January 31, 2014

Notification of acceptance: Early April, 2014

Conference: September 8-11, 2014

Please prepare your abstracts for blind review. Submit your abstract and a separate document containing your contact information to:

Steering committee of the conference series “Causality in the Sciences”

Isabelle Drouet (Philosophy, Paris-Sorbonne)

Phyllis Illari (Science and Technology Studies, UCL)

Bert Leuridan (Philosophy, Ghent)

Julian Reiss (Philosophy, Durham)

Federica Russo (Ferrara and Kent)

Erik Weber (Philosophy, Ghent)

Jon Williamson (Philosophy, Kent)