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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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)