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  1. Marshall Abrams (2009). Fitness “Kinematics”: Biological Function, Altruism, and Organism–Environment Development. Biology and Philosophy 24 (4):487-504.
    It’s recently been argued that biological fitness can’t change over the course of an organism’s life as a result of organisms’ behaviors. However, some characterizations of biological function and biological altruism tacitly or explicitly assume that an effect of a trait can change an organism’s fitness. In the first part of the paper, I explain that the core idea of changing fitness can be understood in terms of conditional probabilities defined over sequences of events in an organism’s life. The result (...)
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  2. Peter Achinstein (1977). Function Statements. Philosophy of Science 44 (3):341-367.
    An examination of difficulties in three standard accounts of functions leads to the suggestion that sentences of the form "the function of x is to do y" are used to make a variety of different claims, all of which involve a means-end relationship and the idea of design, or use, or benefit. The analysis proposed enables us to see what is right and also wrong with accounts that analyze the meaning of function statements in terms of good consequences, goals, and (...)
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  3. Frederick R. Adams (1979). A Goal-State Theory of Function Attributions. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 9 (3):493 - 518.
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  4. Frederick Adams & Berent Enc (1988). Not Quite By Accident. Dialogue 27 (02):287-.
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  5. Colin Allen, Teleological Notions in Biology.
    Teleological terms such as "function" and "design" appear frequently in the biological sciences. Examples of teleological claims include: A (biological) function of stotting by antelopes is to communicate to predators that they have been detected. Eagles' wings are (naturally) designed for soaring. Teleological notions were commonly associated with the pre-Darwinian view that the biological realm provides evidence of conscious design by a supernatural creator. Even after creationist viewpoints were rejected by most biologists there remained various grounds for concern about the (...)
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  6. Colin Allen & Marc Bekoff (1995). Biological Function, Adaptation, and Natural Design. Philosophy of Science 62 (4):609-622.
    Recently something close to a consensus about the best way to naturalize the notion of biological function appears to be emerging. Nonetheless, teleological notions in biology remain controversial. In this paper we provide a naturalistic analysis for the notion of natural design. Many authors assume that natural design should be assimilated directly to function. Others find the notion problematic because it suggests that evolution is a directed process. We argue that both of these views are mistaken. Our naturalistic account does (...)
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  7. Colin Allen, Marc Bekoff & George V. Lauder (eds.) (1998). Nature's Purposes: Analyses of Function and Design in Biology. The MIT Press.
  8. Ron Amundson & George V. Lauder (1998). Function Without Purpose: The Uses of Causal Role Function in Evolutionary Biology. In David L. Hull & Michael Ruse (eds.), Biology and Philosophy. Oxford University Press 227--57.
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  9. Ron Amundson & George V. Lauder (1994). Function Without Purpose. Biology and Philosophy 9 (4):443-469.
    Philosophers of evolutionary biology favor the so-called etiological concept of function according to which the function of a trait is its evolutionary purpose, defined as the effect for which that trait was favored by natural selection. We term this the selected effect (SE) analysis of function. An alternative account of function was introduced by Robert Cummins in a non-evolutionary and non-purposive context. Cummins''s account has received attention but little support from philosophers of biology. This paper will show that a similar (...)
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  10. Kristin A. Andrews (1999). Colin Allen, Marc Bekoff, and George Lauder, Eds., Nature's Purposes: Analysis of Function and Design in Biology Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 19 (3):157-158.
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  11. Andre Ariew, Robert C. Cummins & Mark Perlman (eds.) (2002). Functions: New Essays in the Philosophy of Psychology and Biology. Oxford University Press.
    But what are functions? Here, 15 leading scholars of philosophy of psychology and philosophy of biology present new essays on functions.
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  12. D. M. Armstrong (1980). Functional Specification. In Ned Block (ed.), Readings in Philosophy of Psychology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press 1--191.
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  13. Argyris Arnellos, Luis Emilio Bruni, Charbel Niño El-Hani & John Collier (2012). Anticipatory Functions, Digital-Analog Forms and Biosemiotics: Integrating the Tools to Model Information and Normativity in Autonomous Biological Agents. Biosemiotics 5 (3):331-367.
    We argue that living systems process information such that functionality emerges in them on a continuous basis. We then provide a framework that can explain and model the normativity of biological functionality. In addition we offer an explanation of the anticipatory nature of functionality within our overall approach. We adopt a Peircean approach to Biosemiotics, and a dynamical approach to Digital-Analog relations and to the interplay between different levels of functionality in autonomous systems, taking an integrative approach. We then apply (...)
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  14. Argyris Arnellos & Álvaro Moreno (2012). How Functional Differentiation Originated in Prebiotic Evolution. Ludus Vitalis 20 (37):1-23.
    Even the simplest cell exhibits a high degree of functional differentiation (FD) realized through several mechanisms and devices contributing differently to its maintenance. Searching for the origin of FD, we briefly argue that the emergence of the respective organizational complexity cannot be the result of either natural selection (NS) or solely of the dynamics of simple self-maintaining (SM) systems. Accordingly, a highly gradual and cumulative process should have been necessary for the transition from either simple self-assembled or self-maintaining systems of (...)
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  15. Robert Arp (2007). Evolution and Two Popular Proposals for the Definition of Function. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 38 (1):19 - 30.
    In the biological realm, a complete explanation of a trait seems to include an explanation in terms of function. It is natural to ask of some trait, "What is its function?" or "What purpose in the organism does the particular trait serve?" or "What is the goal of its activity?" There are several views concerning the appropriate definition of function for biological matters. Two popular views of function with respect to living things are Cummins' organizational account and the Griffiths/Godfrey-Smith modern (...)
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  16. Marc Artiga (forthcoming). The Modal Theory of Function Is Not About Functions. 81 (4):580-591,.
    In a series of papers, Bence Nanay has recently put forward and defended a new theory of function, which he calls the ‘Modal Theory of Function’. In this article, I critically address this theory and argue that it fails to fulfill some key desiderata that a satisfactory theory of function must comply with. As a result, I conclude that, whatever property Nanay’s notion of function refers to, it is not the property having the function that is standardly attributed in science.
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  17. Marc Artiga (2011). Re-Organizing Organizational Accounts of Function. Applied Ontology 6 (2):105-124.
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  18. Marc Artiga & Manolo Martínez (forthcoming). The Organizational Account of Function is an Etiological Account of Function. Acta Biotheoretica.
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  19. Francisco J. Ayala (1970). Teleological Explanations in Evolutionary Biology. Philosophy of Science 37 (1):1-15.
    The ultimate source of explanation in biology is the principle of natural selection. Natural selection means differential reproduction of genes and gene combinations. It is a mechanistic process which accounts for the existence in living organisms of end-directed structures and processes. It is argued that teleological explanations in biology are not only acceptable but indeed indispensable. There are at least three categories of biological phenomena where teleological explanations are appropriate.
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  20. Kenneth K. Baublys (1975). Comments on Some Recent Analyses of Functional Statements in Biology. Philosophy of Science 42 (4):469-486.
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  21. Timothy M. Beardsley (2013). Functions for Genomics and Philosophy. BioScience 63 (6):415-415.
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  22. William Bechtel (1986). Teleological Functional Analyses and the Hierarchical Organization of Nature. In Nicholas Rescher (ed.), Current Issues in Teleology. University Press of America 26--48.
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  23. William P. Bechtel & Jennifer Mundale (1996). Integrating Neuroscience, Psychology, and Evolutionary Biology Through a Teleological Conception of Function. Minds and Machines 6 (4):481-505.
    The idea of integrating evolutionary biology and psychology has great promise, but one that will be compromised if psychological functions are conceived too abstractly and neuroscience is not allowed to play a contructive role. We argue that the proper integration of neuroscience, psyychology, and evolutionary biology requires a telelogical as opposed to a merely componential analysis of function. A teleological analysis is required in neuroscience itself; we point to traditional and curent research methods in neuroscience, which make critical use of (...)
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  24. Morton Beckner (1969). Function and Teleology. Journal of the History of Biology 2 (1):151 - 164.
    The view of teleology sketched in the above remarks seems to me to offer a piece of candy to both the critics and guardians of teleology. The critics want to defend against a number of things: the importation of unverifiable theological or metaphysical doctrines into the sciences; the idea that goals somehow act in favor of their won realization; and the view that biological systems require for their study concepts and patterns of explanation unlike anything employed in the physical sciences. (...)
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  25. Morton Beckner (1968). The Biological Way of Thought. Berkeley, University of California Press.
  26. Mark Bedau (1992). Where's the Good in Teleology? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52 (4):781-806.
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  27. Henning Bergenholtz & Sven Tarp (2003). Two Opposing Theories: On HE Wiegand's Recent Discovery of Lexicographic Functions. Hermes 31:171-196.
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  28. Réjane Bernier & Paul Pirlot (1977). Organe Et Fonction Essai de Biophilosophie.
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  29. Michael Bertrand (2013). Proper Environment and the SEP Account of Biological Function. Synthese 190 (9):1503-1517.
    The survival enhancing propensity (SEP) account has a crucial role to play in the analysis of proper function. However, a central feature of the account, its specification of the proper environment to which functions are relativized, is seriously underdeveloped. In this paper, I argue that existent accounts of proper environment fail because they either allow too many or too few characters to count as proper functions. While SEP accounts retain their promise, they are unworkable because of their inability to specify (...)
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  30. John Bigelow & Robert Pargetter (1990). Science and Necessity. Cambridge University Press.
    This book espouses an innovative theory of scientific realism in which due weight is given to mathematics and logic. The authors argue that mathematics can be understood realistically if it is seen to be the study of universals, of properties and relations, of patterns and structures, the kinds of things which can be in several places at once. Taking this kind of scientific platonism as their point of departure, they show how the theory of universals can account for probability, laws (...)
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  31. John Bigelow & Robert Pargetter (1987). Functions. Journal of Philosophy 84 (4):181-196.
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  32. Harry Binswanger (1973). The Biological Basis of Teleological Concepts. Dissertation, Columbia University
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  33. 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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  34. Christopher Boorse (1977). Health as a Theoretical Concept. Philosophy of Science 44 (4):542-573.
    This paper argues that the medical conception of health as absence of disease is a value-free theoretical notion. Its main elements are biological function and statistical normality, in contrast to various other ideas prominent in the literature on health. Apart from universal environmental injuries, diseases are internal states that depress a functional ability below species-typical levels. Health as freedom from disease is then statistical normality of function, i.e., the ability to perform all typical physiological functions with at least typical efficiency. (...)
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  35. Christopher Boorse (1976). Wright on Functions. Philosophical Review 85 (1):70-86.
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  36. Stefano Borgo, Riichiro Mizoguchi & Barry Smith (2011). On the Ontology of Functions. Applied Ontology 6 (2):99-104.
    This special issue of Applied Ontology is devoted to the foundation, the comparison and the application of functional theories in all areas, with particular attention to the biological and engineering domains. It includes theoretical and technical contributions related to the description, characterization, and application of functions.
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  37. Gregory Brown, Corinne Smith, Lilian Alessa & Andrew Kliskey (2004). A Comparison of Perceptions of Biological Value with Scientific Assessment of Biological Importance. In Antoine Bailly & Lay James Gibson (eds.), Applied Geography. Kluwer Academic Publishers 161-180.
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  38. Robert F. Brucker (1973). Biological Membranes The Structure and Function of Biological Membranes L. I. Rothfield. BioScience 23 (1):58-58.
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  39. Björn Brunnander (2011). On the Theoretical Motivation for Positing Etiological Functions. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (3):371-390.
    It is a plain fact that biology makes use of terms and expressions commonly spoken of as teleological. Biologists frequently speak of the function of biological items. They may also say that traits are 'supposed to' perform some of their effects, claim that traits are 'for' specific effects, or that organisms have particular traits 'in order to' engage in specific interactions. There is general agreement that there must be something useful about this linguistic practice but it is controversial whether it (...)
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  40. David J. Buller (2002). Function and Design Revisited. In Andre Ariew, Robert Cummins & Mark Perlman (eds.), Functions: New Essays in the Philosophy of Psychology and Biology. Clarendon Press
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  41. David J. Buller (ed.) (1999). Function, Selection, and Design. State University of New York Press.
    A complete sourcebook for philosophical discussion of the nature of function in biology.
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  42. David J. Buller (1998). Etiological Theories of Function: A Geographical Survey. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 13 (4):505-527.
    Formulations of the essential commitment of the etiological theory of functions have varied significantly, with some individual authors' formulations even varying from one place to another. The logical geography of these various formulations is different from what is standardly assumed; for they are not stylistic variants of the same essential commitment, but stylistic variants of two non-equivalent versions of the etiological theory. I distinguish these “strong” and “weak” versions of the etiological theory (which differ with respect to the role of (...)
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  43. Rich Cameron (2004). How to Be a Realist About Sui Generis Teleology Yet Feel at Home in the 21st Century. The Monist 87 (1):72-95.
    The reigning orthodoxy on biological teleology assumes that teleology either must be reduced (or eliminated) or it depends on a supernatural agent. The dominant orthodox sect rejects supernaturalism and eliminitivism, and, given the poverty of competing views has been allowed to become complacent about the adequacy of favored reductivist accounts. These are beset by more serious problems than proponents acknowledge. Moreover, the assumption underlying orthodoxy is false; there is an alternative scientifically and philosophically plausible naturalistic account of teleology. We can (...)
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  44. John Canfield (1965). Teleological Explanation in Biology: A Reply. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 15 (60):327-331.
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  45. John Canfield (1964). Teleological Explanation in Biology. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 14 (56):285-295.
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  46. John V. Canfield (1990). The Concept of Function in Biology. Philosophical Topics 18 (2):29-53.
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  47. John V. Canfield (1966). Purpose in Nature. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.,Prentice-Hall.
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  48. Gustavo Caponi (2010). Functional Analyses and Selectional Explanations in Biology: A Critique of the Etiological Conception of Function. Ideas Y Valores 59:51-72.
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  49. Massimiliano Carrara & Pieter E. Vermaas (2009). The Fine-Grained Metaphysics of Artifactual and Biological Functional Kinds. Synthese 169 (1):125 - 143.
    In this paper we consider the emerging position in metaphysics that artifact functions characterize real kinds of artifacts. We analyze how it can circumvent an objection by David Wiggins (Sameness and substance renewed, 2001, 87) and then argue that this position, in comparison to expert judgments, amounts to an interesting fine-grained metaphysics: taking artifact functions as (part of the) essences of artifacts leads to distinctions between principles of activity of artifacts that experts in technology have not yet made. We show, (...)
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  50. David Chart (2002). What Functions Explain: Functional Explanation and Self-Reproducing Systems. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 53 (4):593-596.
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