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Event: International Conference on Causality and Complexity in the Sciences

Event date September 08, 2014 - September 11, 2014
Submission deadline January 31, 2014
Location University of Cologne
Host(s) Marie I. Kaiser and Alexander Reutlinger
Event website/information

International Conference on

“Causality and Complexity in the Sciences”


University of Cologne

September 8-11, 2014


DFG Research Group Causation | Laws | Dispositions | Explanation



This conference is an event in the conference series “Causality in the





Laura Franklin-Hall (New York University)

Mara Harrell (Carnegie Mellon University)

Paul Humphreys (University of Virginia)

Meinard Kuhlmann (University of Bielefeld)

Álvaro Moreno (University of the Basque Country)

Gry Oftedal (University of Oslo)

Cosma Shalizi (Carnegie Mellon University)

William Wimsatt (University of Chicago)



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? Is it possible to identify

general, trans-disciplinary 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



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 submit your abstract to:


For further information please visit the website of the conference


In case you have any further question please contact the local


Marie I. Kaiser (

Alexander Reutlinger (



Steering committee of the conference series “Causality in the



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)



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