Evolutionary transitions and top-down causation

Sara Walker, Luis Cisneros, Paul Davies

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Top-down causation has been suggested to occur at all scales of biological organization as a mechanism for explaining the hierarchy of structure and causation in living systems (Campbell, 1974; Auletta et al., 2008; Davies, 2006b, 2012; Ellis, 2012). Here we propose that a transition from bottom-up to top-down causation - mediated by a reversal in the flow of information from lower to higher levels of organization, to that from higher to lower levels of organization - is a driving force for most major evolutionary transitions. We suggest that many major evolutionary transitions might therefore be marked by a transition in causal structure. We use logistic growth as a toy model for demonstrating how such a transition can drive the emergence of collective behavior in replicative systems. We then outline how this scenario may have played out in those major evolutionary transitions in which new, higher levels of organization emerged, and propose possible methods via which our hypothesis might be tested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationArtificial Life 13
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 13th International Conference on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems, ALIFE 2012
Pages283-290
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012
Event13th International Conference on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems: Artificial Life 13, ALIFE 2012 - East Lansing, MI, United States
Duration: Jul 19 2012Jul 22 2012

Publication series

NameArtificial Life 13: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems, ALIFE 2012

Other

Other13th International Conference on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems: Artificial Life 13, ALIFE 2012
CountryUnited States
CityEast Lansing, MI
Period7/19/127/22/12

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation

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    Walker, S., Cisneros, L., & Davies, P. (2012). Evolutionary transitions and top-down causation. In Artificial Life 13: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems, ALIFE 2012 (pp. 283-290). (Artificial Life 13: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems, ALIFE 2012).