Living through Downward Causation

Keith Farnsworth, George Ellis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Downward causation (first defined by Campbell, 1974) is both a philosophical concept and
an apparent phenomenon of nature attracting great controversy. Most scientists usually
assume that all observable phenomena derive from elemental fundamental physics, so that
even human behaviours ultimately result from interactions of subatomic particles, via a
unidirectional chain of causes and effects. On closer inspection, the act of living seems able
to spontaneously generate events, breaking this chain; it is as though life possessed 'free …
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFrom Matter to Life
Subtitle of host publicationInformation and causality
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages30
ISBN (Print)9781107150539
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2017


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