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  1. Jonathan Birch (2012). Robust Processes and Teleological Language. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 3 (3):299-312.
    I consider some hitherto unexplored examples of teleological language in the sciences. In explicating these examples, I aim to show (a) that such language is not the sole preserve of the biological sciences, and (b) that not all such talk is reducible to the ascription of functions. In chemistry and biochemistry, scientists explaining molecular rearrangements and protein folding talk informally of molecules rearranging “in order to” maximize stability. Evolutionary biologists, meanwhile, often speak of traits evolving “in order to” optimize some (...)
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  2. Darren Bradley (2013). Functionalism and The Independence Problems. Noûs 47 (1):n/a-n/a.
    The intimacy problems for functionalism stem from the worry that if functional properties are defined in terms of their causes and effects then such functional properties seem to be too intimately connected to these purported causes and effects. I distinguish three different ways the intimacy problems can be filled out – in terms of necessary connections, analytic connections and vacuous explanations. I argue that none of these present serious problems. Instead, they bring out some important and over-looked features of functionalism.
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  3. Justin Garson (2011). Selected Effects and Causal Role Functions in the Brain: The Case for an Etiological Approach to Neuroscience. Biology and Philosophy 26 (4):547-565.
    Despite the voluminous literature on biological functions produced over the last 40 years, few philosophers have studied the concept of function as it is used in neuroscience. Recently, Craver (forthcoming; also see Craver 2001) defended the causal role theory against the selected effects theory as the most appropriate theory of function for neuroscience. The following argues that though neuroscientists do study causal role functions, the scope of that theory is not as universal as claimed. Despite the strong prima facie superiority (...)
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  4. Peter J. Graham (forthcoming). The Function of Perception. In Abrol Fairweather (ed.), Virtue Scientia: Virtue Epistemology and Philosophy of Science. Synthese Library.
    What is the biological function of perception? I hold perception, especially visual perception in humans, has the biological function of accurately representing the environment. Tyler Burge argues this cannot be so in Origins of Objectivity (Oxford, 2010), for accuracy is a semantical relationship and not, as such, a practical matter. Burge also provides a supporting example. I rebut the argument and the example. Accuracy is sometimes also a practical matter if accuracy partly explains how perception contributes to survival and reproduction.
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  5. Rolf Gruner (1966). Teleological and Functional Explanations. Mind 75 (300):516-526.
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  6. Carl Hempel (1965). Aspects of Scientific Explanation and Other Essays in the Philosophy of Science. The Free Press.
  7. C. S. Jenkins & Daniel Nolan (2008). Backwards Explanation. Philosophical Studies 140 (1):103 - 115.
    We discuss explanation of an earlier event by a later event, and argue that prima facie cases of backwards event explanation are ubiquitous. Some examples: (1) I am tidying my flat because my brother is coming to visit tomorrow. (2) The scarlet pimpernels are closing because it is about to rain. (3) The volcano is smoking because it is going to erupt soon. We then look at various ways people might attempt to explain away these prima facie cases by arguing (...)
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  8. Ehud Lamm (forthcoming). Theoreticians as Professional Outsiders: The Modeling Strategies of John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener. In Oren Harman & Michael Dietrich (eds.), Biology Outside the Box: Boundary Crossers and Innovation in Biology. Chicago University Press.
    Both von Neumann and Wiener were outsiders to biology. Both were inspired by biology and both proposed models and generalizations that proved inspirational for biologists. Around the same time in the 1940s von Neumann developed the notion of self reproducing automata and Wiener suggested an explication of teleology using the notion of negative feedback. These efforts were similar in spirit. Both von Neumann and Wiener used mathematical ideas to attack foundational issues in biology, and the concepts they articulated had lasting (...)
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  9. Martin Mahner & Mario Bunge (2001). Function and Functionalism: A Synthetic Perspective. Philosophy of Science 68 (1):75-94.
    In this paper we examine the following problems: How many concepts of function are there in biology, social science, and technology? Are they logically related and if so, how? Which of these function concepts effect a functional explanation as opposed to a mere functional account? What are the consequences of a pluralist view of functions for functionalism? We submit that there are five concepts of function in biology, which are logically related in a particular way, and six function concepts in (...)
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  10. Bence Nanay (2012). Function Attribution Depends on the Explanatory Context: A Reply to Neander and Rosenberg's Reply to Nanay. Journal of Philosophy 109 (10):623-627.
    In ‘A modal theory of function’, I gave an argument against all existing theories of function and outlined a new theory. Karen Neander and Alex Rosenberg argue against both my negative and my positive claim. My aim here is not merely to defend my account from their objections, but to (a) very briefly point out that the new account of etiological function they propose in response to my criticism cannot avoid the circularity worry either and, more importantly, to (b) highlight, (...)
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  11. Bence Nanay (2011). Function, Modality, Mental Content. Journal of Mind and Behavior 32:84-87.
    I clarify some of the details of the modal theory of function I outlined in Nanay (2010): (a) I explicate what it means that the function of a token biological trait is fixed by modal facts; (b) I address an objection to my trait type individuation argument against etiological function and (c) I examine the consequences of replacing the etiological theory of function with a modal theory for the prospects of using the concept of biological function to explain mental content.
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  12. Bence Nanay (2010). A Modal Theory of Function. Journal of Philosophy 107 (8):412-431.
    The function of a trait token is usually defined in terms of some properties of other (past, present, future) tokens of the same trait type. I argue that this strategy is problematic, as trait types are (at least partly) individuated by their functional properties, which would lead to circularity. In order to avoid this problem, I suggest a way to define the function of a trait token in terms of the properties of the very same trait token. To able to (...)
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  13. Antonio Nunziante (2008). Back to the Roots. “Functions” and “Teleology” in the Philosophy of Leibniz. In Luca Illetterati & Francesca Michelini (eds.), Purposiveness. Teleology between Nature and Mind. Ontos Verlag.
    It is certainly true that in early modern thought the emergence of a new science changed the image of the universe in a mechanistic way. It must be considered, though, that most of the main protagonists of this revolution (Kepler, Newton, Leibniz, ‘biologists’ like Leeuwenhoek, Hartsoeker, Hooke, Malpighi, Redi, etc.) still continued to consider the importance and the utility of a finalistic explanation of natural phenomena. Concepts like “function”, “self-organization”, “organism” have roots in early modern thought: not only from a (...)
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  14. Marco Solinas (2012). L'impronta dell'inutilità. Dalla teleologia di Aristotele alle genealogie di Darwin. ETS.
    The book aims to offer a contribution to the historiographical and conceptual reconfiguration of the evolutionary revolution in the light of the centuries-old tenets of the Aristotelian biological tradition. Darwin’s breakthrough constitutes a thorough overturning of the fixist, essentialist and teleological framework created by Aristotle, a framework still dominant in the 17th Century world of Harvey and Ray, as well as Galileo, and then hegemonic until Linnaeus and Cuvier. This change is exemplified in the morphological analysis of useless parts, such (...)
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  15. Arno Wouters (2006). What Functions Explain: Functional Explanation and Self-Reproducing Systems. [REVIEW] Acta Biotheoretica 54 (1):55-59.
    Review of Peter Mc. Laughlin *What Functions Explain" (2001).
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