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Weinberger, Naftali (2020): Near-Decomposability and the Timescale Relativity of Causal Representations. In: Philosophy of Science, Vol. 87, No. 5: pp. 841-856
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A common strategy for simplifying complex systems involves partitioning them into subsystems whose behaviors are roughly independent of one another at shorter timescales. Dynamic causal models clarify how doing so reveals a system's nonequilibrium causal relationships. Here I use these models to elucidate the idealizations and abstractions involved in representing a system at a timescale. The models reveal that key features of causal representations-such as which variables are exogenous-may vary with the timescale at which a system is considered. This has implications for debates regarding which systems can be represented causally.