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The Causal Principle

Iris B�lsamo

National Academy of Sciences of Buenos Aires Institute of Public Law, Political Science and Sociology

The advance of science is associated to the empirical test of its principles. In dynamic system models, there are four types of causation that correspond to Aristotle's efficient, formal, material and final causes. They refer to systems described by structure, organization, domain of changes in the system, and domain of interactions. Formulated as law, causation fulfils the four senses of scientific law referred to dynamical systems - objective, nomological, nomopragmatic and meta-nomological.

The cause-effect law as connection between events have been characterizing the modern Science during the last four centuries. This Aristotelian efficient causation, named necessary and sufficient condition by Galileo Galilei, becomes insufficient for understanding the complex phenomena of Systems Sciences. In the same sense, Albert Einstein and Max Planck recognized the insufficiency of modern causation for understanding the complex phenomena of quantum Physics. They proposed the ampliation and refinement of the cause-effect connection between events to subject the metaphysical causation to the experimental conditions of modern science (Planck, 1933). The Aristotelian causality According to Aristotle, the causal principle constitutes the mean for discovering the truth in Nature and Industry. The true knowledge arises when the question on the four genders of causes is answered. Each one of these codifies a specific information in the construction of knowledge or discovery of the truth. The formal cause answers the question what is?, it refers to the thing, the pattern, the form; efficient cause is the agent, it refers to the stimuli, perturbations, interactions, inputs; material cause codifies the space in which something exists, its constituent, while final cause answers the question for what?, it is defined by the purposes, objectives, functions, emergencies, results and outputs. To represent the knowledge according the four causes implies to make explicit the whole situation of knowledge. While the efficient causation connects events (i.e. stimulus with reactions), the concurrence of the four causes can take over the whole object or process studied in its particular situation (i.e. a system answering in a specific way under certain stimulus). It implies to understand that each time a stone breaks a glass, it is the glass which specifies the changes to suffer by action of the stone. So it is possible to understand why different systems react or answer in a different way under the same stimulus (e.g., to compare linear and non linear patterns). Conversely, to understand why a system develops different patterns of behaviors under different treatments (e.g., microparticle's and wave's behaviors under classic forces and uncertainty relations, respectively). In Industry and Management the use of the four causes makes possible to understand why similar objectives (final cause) can be got applying different strategies to imply different systems, agents and courses of action. In Engineering, it let understand why the only variation of matter in processes of any type produces different results. And more strictly, why each time identities are distinguished, differences are hidden or underestimated. Dynamics of systems There are two basic conceptual tools for describing systems. They are structure and organization. The structure refers to the relations among components plus their properties. The organization, which evokes the Aristotelian organon, corresponds to the identity of the system or the structure which gives identity to the system. So then, things which are not originally regarded as systems can be described by organization and structure for being finally regarded as systems (e.g., collections of properties). There are two basic operative concepts in dynamics of systems, interactions and changes. Interactions take place between the system and other/s system/s in the environment, and inside the system when it has access to the distinction between internal and external environment. And changes are referred to differences in properties, components and relations of the structure and/or organization of the system. Interactions and changes are subdivided in destructive and constructive according they result in the loss of identity of system or not, respectively. The combination between the systemic distinction between organization and structure, and the dynamic distinction between interaction and change makes possible to configurate the four domains that any complex unity specifies (Maturana and Varela, 1984): i. Domain of change of state or structural change: those differences that a system may suffer without loss of identity. Structural changes are differences in the components and/or in the relations among them. While changes of state are differences in the properties. ii. Domain of destructive changes: those differences in the organization of a system which produce loss of identity. iii. Domain of productive interactions: those actions between the system and the environment which produce changes of state or structural changes. iv. Domain of destructive interactions: those actions between the system and the environment which produce changes with loss of identity. The full dynamic sense of the Aristotelian causation is retrieved to refer the four types of causes to the dynamics of systems so described. The efficient cause (ec) codifies information relative to constructive and destructive interactions; the final cause (fic) codifies information relative to constructive and destructive changes; the formal cause (foc) codifies information relative to the organization and the structure; and the material cause (mc) codifies the information relative to the components and the space of existence specified by their properties. Conversely, when the information relative to the dynamics of systems is codified by the four genders of causes, the whole knowledge of something - process or object - emerges in its relative truth. Causal Law The metaphysical causal principle is subjected to the experimental conditions of modern Science to be formulated as scientific law with reference to systems dynamics. The four senses of scientific law are (Bunge, 1958): 1. objective: the law with reference to objects; 2. nomological: the law of laws; 3. nomopragmatic: the law with technological purposes; 4. metanomological: the law with theoretical purposes. So then, the four senses of Causal Law are (B�lsamo, 1999): Causal Law1: every system (foc, mc) specifies which interactions (ec) can destroy it or produce changes of state or structure without loss of identity (fic). The law can take over the infinite complexity associated to multiplicity of dimensions at different scales, functional differentiation, hierarchy of levels, hetero and self-organizations. This sense of causal law is relevant to discover or to construct systems whose organization or identity is unknowledged and has to be infered or produced. In these cases, the key question is, which kind of systems can suffer determined type of changes under certain type of stimuli?. Additional complexity may be introduced to refer the components of the system as negative and positive feedbacks. In these cases, dynamic definitions of systems may be got by specific combinations of negative and positive causal loops in Jay Forrester's sense. Causal Law2: evolution = conservation + variation. Conservation is defined by those structures that can not change without loss of identity. Variation is defined by those structures that can change without loss of identity. Mechanisms and processes of selection, refraction, reflexion and resonance are responsible for evolution. According the system dynamics model implied, the causal law verifies if changes are referred to organization, structure, relations, components, and/or properties. When the organization is conserved, the system evolves. When the organization changes, the system is transformed (metamorphosis) generating a new identity. Causal Law3: for the evolution of a system do not interact destructively with it. Destructive interactions produce disintegration and loss of identity. When it takes place a new organization or identity arises. According the system dynamics model implied it is possible to know if destructive interactions are referred to organization, structure, relations, components, or properties. So the causal law is a basic tool to test the changes in the system under different treatments, and to simulate and manage them in different sceneries and environments (B�lsamo, 2000). Causal Law4: Coordination of action of coordination of action. The four Aristotelian causes (ec; foc; mc; fic) are organized in two ordinate pairs. It produces twelve sequential combinations. The relation R between the two ordinate pairs is oclussion, inclusion or belonging. Causal Law4 = { (c1; c2) R (c3; c4) } This sense of causal law is relevant to search consistency in the construction of models or theories. Thus, for example, to identify the specific linkages by which non linear patterns of behavior (foc) produce large changes (fic) in a social, biological or physical space (mc) under small perturbations (ec). Another example, to construct complex models identifying the specific circumstances (ec) which facilitate or interfere the self-organization (fic) of systems (foc; mc). The experimental character of the causal law is revealed not only to test the different meanings that the four gender of causes can assume, but also to make explicit that the only concurrence of one, two or three genders of causes produces incomplete knowledge and misunderstandings. Understanding and complete representation of knowledge emerge from the concurrence of the four genders of causes. So then, a more strict formulation of the causal law is got by means of the amplification and refinement of the cause-effect connection between events according the Einstein and Planck's conditions for the foundations, unity and advance of Science in general and Systems Science in particular.

the_causal_principle.txt · Last modified: 2015/01/31 23:55 (external edit)