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Subcategories:History/traditions: Teleology and Function
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  1. Yousef H. Abdulla (2001). A Plausible Function of the Prion Protein: Conjectures and a Hypothesis. Bioessays 23 (5):456-462.
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  2. Nizamuddin Ahmed (1987). Structure and Function of Chimaeric Antibodies. Bioessays 6 (4):175-177.
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  3. Doug Al-Maini (2005). Technique and Teleology in Plato's Rhetoric. The European Legacy 10 (4):283-298.
    This paper is an investigation of the place of rhetoric in Plato's judgement that philosophers must rule. The possibility that rhetoric could facilitate the rule of philosophy raises the question of whether rhetoric could also be used to undermine the governance of philosophy. It is my thesis that Plato argues for understanding rhetoric as limited in its ability to function at cross-purposes to those of philosophy because of a basic and direct relationship between the effectiveness of rhetoric and its ability (...)
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  4. Hwee‐Luan Ang & Vinay Tergaonkar (2007). Notch and NFκB Signaling Pathways: Do They Collaborate in Normal Vertebrate Brain Development and Function? Bioessays 29 (10):1039-1047.
  5. Francisco J. Ayala (2009). Masters. Causality and Design : Teleological Explanations in the Living World. In González Recio & José Luis (eds.), Philosophical Essays on Physics and Biology. G. Olms.
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  6. 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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  7. William Bechtel (2009). Generalization and Discovery by Assuming Conserved Mechanisms: Cross‐Species Research on Circadian Oscillators. Philosophy of Science 76 (5):762-773.
    In many domains of biology, explanation takes the form of characterizing the mechanism responsible for a particular phenomenon in a specific biological system. How are such explanations generalized? One important strategy assumes conservation of mechanisms through evolutionary descent. But conservation is seldom complete. In the case discussed, the central mechanism for circadian rhythms in animals was first identified in Drosophila and then extended to mammals. Scientists' working assumption that the clock mechanisms would be conserved both yielded important generalizations and served (...)
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  8. Charles G. Bell (1948). Mechanistic Replacement of Purpose in Biology. Philosophy of Science 15 (1):47-51.
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  9. Ned Block (1971). Are Mechanistic and Teleological Explanations of Behaviour Incompatible? Philosophical Quarterly 21 (April):109-117.
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  10. Ulrike Brand, Martin Hobe & Rüdiger Simon (2001). Functional Domains in Plant Shoot Meristems. Bioessays 23 (2):134-141.
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  11. Robert N. Brandon (1984). Grene on Mechanism and Reductionism: More Than Just a Side Issue. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1984:345 - 353.
    In this paper the common association between ontological reductionism and a methodological position called 'Mechanism' is discussed. Three major points are argued for: (1) Mechanism is not to be identified with reductionism in any of its forms; in fact, mechanism leads to a non-reductionist ontology. (2) Biological methodology is thoroughly mechanistic. (3) Mechanism is compatible with at least one form of teleology. Along the way the nature and value of scientific explanations, some recent controversies in biology and why reductionism has (...)
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  12. William R. A. Brown & Zheng‐yao Xu (2009). The 'Kinetochore Maintenance Loop'—The Mark of Regulation? Bioessays 31 (2):228-236.
  13. John Canfield (1965). Teleological Explanation in Biology: A Reply. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 15 (60):327-331.
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  14. John Canfield (1964). Teleological Explanation in Biology. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 14 (56):285-295.
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  15. John V. Canfield (1966). Purpose in Nature. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.,Prentice-Hall.
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  16. Laurence Carlin (2006). Leibniz on Final Causes. Journal of the History of Philosophy 44 (2):217-233.
    : In this paper, I investigate Leibniz's conception of final causation. I focus especially on the role that Leibnizian final causes play in intentional action, and I argue that for Leibniz, final causes are a species of efficient causation. It is the intentional nature of final causation that distinguishes it from mechanical efficient causation. I conclude by highlighting some of the implications of Leibniz's conception of final causation for his views on human freedom, and on the unconscious activity of substances.
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  17. Mar Carmena (2004). Book Reviews: Chromosomes: Organization and Function. Bioessays 26 (6):700-700.
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  18. Ted J. Case (1979). Optimal Body Size and an Animal's Diet. Acta Biotheoretica 28 (1).
    Within many animal taxa there is a trend for the species of larger body size to eat food of lower caloric value. For example, most large extant lizards are herbivorous. Reasonable arguments based on energetic considerations are often invoked to explain this trend, yet, while these factors set limits to feasible body size, they do not in themselves mathematically produce optimum body sizes. A simple optimization model is developed here which considers food search, capture, and eating rates and the metabolic (...)
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  19. John Collier, Simulating Autonomous Anticipation: The Importance of Dubois' Conjecture.
    Anticipation allows a system to adapt to conditions that have not yet come to be, either externally to the system or internally. Autonomous systems actively control their own conditions so as to increase their functionality (they self-regulate). Living systems self-regulate in order to increase their own viability. These increasingly stronger conditions, anticipation, autonomy and viability, can give an insight into progressively stronger classes of models of autonomy. I will argue that stronger forms are the relevant ones for Artificial Life. This (...)
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  20. John M. Connolly (2009). Eudaimonism, Teleology, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Faith and Philosophy 26 (3):274-296.
    Recent interest among both philosophers and the wider public in the tradition of virtue ethics often takes its inspiration from Aristotle or from Thomas Aquinas. In this essay I briefly outline the ethical approaches of these two towering figures, and then describe more fully the virtue ethics of Meister Eckhart, a medieval thinker who admired, though critically, both Aristotle and Aquinas. His related but distinctively original approach to the virtuous life is marked by a striking and seemingly paradoxical injunction to (...)
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  21. Gary G. Coté & Richard C. Crain (1994). Why Do Plants Have Phosphoinositides? Bioessays 16 (1):39-46.
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  22. Mark B. Couch (2009). Multiple Realization in Comparative Perspective. Biology and Philosophy 24 (4):505-519.
    Arguments for multiple realization depend on the idea that the same kind of function is realized by different kinds of structures. It is important to such arguments that we know the kinds used in the arguments have been individuated properly. In the philosophical literature, though, claims about how to individuate kinds are frequently decided on intuitive grounds. This paper criticizes this way of approaching kinds by considering how practicing researchers think about the matter. I will consider several examples in which (...)
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  23. Ágnes Csiszár (2006). Structural and Functional Diversity of Adaptor Proteins Involved in Tyrosine Kinase Signalling. Bioessays 28 (5):465-479.
  24. Abel De La Rosa, Patricia S. Steeg & Roger L. Williams (1995). Nm23/Nucleoside Diphosphate Kinase: Toward a Structural and Biochemical Understanding of its Biological Functions. Bioessays 17 (1):53-62.
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  25. Pierre De Meyts (2004). Insulin and its Receptor: Structure, Function and Evolution. Bioessays 26 (12):1351-1362.
  26. Terrence W. Deacon (2006). Reciprocal Linkage Between Self-Organizing Processes is Sufficient for Self-Reproduction and Evolvability. Biological Theory 1 (2):136-149.
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  27. Gaëlle Debret, Camille Jung, Jean-Pierre Hugot, Leigh Pascoe, Jean-Marc Victor & Annick Lesne (2011). Genetic Susceptibility to a Complex Disease: The Key Role of Functional Redundancy. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 33 (4).
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  28. Joachim W. Deitmer (2000). Glial Strategy for Metabolic Shuttling and Neuronal Function. Bioessays 22 (8):747-752.
  29. Marie Delattre & Marie‐Anne Félix (2009). The Evolutionary Context of Robust and Redundant Cell Biological Mechanisms. Bioessays 31 (5):537-545.
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  30. Jean S. Deutsch (2004). Segments and Parasegments in Arthropods: A Functional Perspective. Bioessays 26 (10):1117-1125.
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  31. David Didion (2003). Relevant Bounds on Hierarchical Levels in the Description of Mechanisms. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 25 (1):5 - 25.
    Mechanisms pervade the sciences, and a significant portion of scientific research is concerned with their discovery and description. This paper is concerned with the latter, categorizing the components that should be included in the description of a mechanism. In describing mechanisms, the question of relevant level of description often arises; the question is where, if anywhere, one should halt a reductionist approach. In this paper, I propose a framework for mechanistic description that identifies the 'relevant' hierarchical levels of a mechanism (...)
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  32. P. Dullemeijer (1968). Some Methodology Problems in a Holistic Approach to Functional Morphology. Acta Biotheoretica 18 (1-4).
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  33. Pieter Dullemeijer (1985). Diversity of Functional Morphological Explanation. Acta Biotheoretica 34 (2-4).
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  34. Claus Emmeche, Closure, Function, Emergence, Semiosis and Life: The Same Idea?
    In this note some epistemological problems in general theories about living systems are considered; in particular, the question of hidden connections between different areas of experience, such as folk biology and scientific biology, and hidden connections between central concepts of theoretical biology, such as function, semiosis, closure and life.
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  35. Claus Emmeche (2002). The Chicken and the Orphean Egg: On the Function of Meaning and the Meaning of Function. Σημιοτκή-Sign Systems Studies 1 (1):15-32.
    A central aspect of the relation between biosemiotics and biology is investigated by asking: Is a biological concept of function intrinsically related to a biosemiotic concept of sign action, and vice versa? A biological notion of function (as some process or part that serves some purpose in the context of maintenance and reproduction of the whole organism) is discussed in the light of the attempt to provide an understanding of life processes as being of a semiotic nature, i.e., constituted by (...)
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  36. Igor Eterović (2011). Kant's Teleology as the Basis for Orientation in Ecology. Filozofska Istraživanja 31 (2):299-309.
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  37. Arantza Etxeberria & Jon Umerez (2009). Biological Organization and the Role of Theoretical Biology : Function and Autonomy. In González Recio & José Luis (eds.), Philosophical Essays on Physics and Biology. G. Olms.
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  38. Patrick Forber (2007). Nietzsche Was No Darwinian. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (2):369–382.
    John Richardson (2002, 2004) argues that Nietzsche’s use of teleological notions, such as the “will to power” and psychological “drives,” can be naturalized within the Darwinian framework of natural selection. Although this ambitious project has merit, the Darwinian framework does not provide the strong teleology necessary to interpret Nietzsche’s explanatory project. Examining the logic of selection, the conceptual limitations on biological functions, and the evidential demands that must be met to deploy evolutionary theory show that Nietzsche’s explanatory project does not (...)
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  39. Harry G. Frankfurt & Brian Poole (1966). Functional Analyses in Biology. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 17 (1):69-72.
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  40. K. W. M. Fulford (2000). Teleology Without Tears: Naturalism, Neo-Naturalism, and Evaluationism in the Analysis of Function Statements in Biology (and a Bet on the Twenty-First Century). Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 7 (1):77-94.
  41. Justin Garson, Broken Mechanisms: Function, Pathology, and Natural Selection.
    The following describes one distinct sense of ‘mechanism’ which is prevalent in biology and biomedicine and which has important epistemic benefits. According to this sense, mechanisms are defined by the functions they facilitate. This construal has two important implications. Firstly, mechanisms that facilitate functions are capable of breaking. Secondly, on this construal, there are rigid constraints on the sorts of phenomena ‘for which’ there can be a mechanism. In this sense, there are no ‘mechanisms for’ pathology, and natural selection is (...)
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  42. James Griesemer (2011). Philosophy and Tinkering. Biology and Philosophy 26 (2):269-279.
    I characterize Wimsatt’s approach to philosophy of science as philosophy for science and then briefly consider a theme emerging from his work that informs just one of the many current developments in philosophy of biology that he inspired: scaffolding as a problem of mechanistic explanation for functionalists.
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  43. Robert Guay, Teleology and Deontology, Etc. Copyright ©2003.
    One can reasonably ask whether or not there is any distinct domain of the ethical. That is, one might wonder whether ethical issues are distinct from, for example, prudential or aesthetic ones, perhaps by invoking duty or obligation or a specific kind of value. But that question, at least for now, is outside the scope of our discussion. For now, we’ll assume that there are such things as ethical questions and that you recognize them when you see them.
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  44. Michael Habib (2013). Constraining the Air Giants: Limits on Size in Flying Animals as an Example of Constraint-Based Biomechanical Theories of Form. [REVIEW] Biological Theory 8 (3):245-252.
    The study of biomechanics most often takes a classic adaptationist approach, examining the functional abilities of organisms in relation to what is allowed by physical parameters. This approach generally assumes strong selection and is less concerned with evolutionary stochasticity in determining the presence of biological traits. It is equally important, however, to consider the importance of constraint in determining the form of organisms. If selection is relatively weak compared to stochastic events, then the observed forms in living systems can be (...)
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  45. U. An Heiden, G. Roth & H. Schwegler (1985). Principles of Self-Generation and Self-Maintenance. Acta Biotheoretica 34 (2-4).
    Living systems are characterized as self-generating and self-maintaining systems. This type of characterization allows integration of a wide variety of detailed knowledge in biology.The paper clarifies general notions such as processes, systems, and interactions. Basic properties of self-generating systems, i.e. systems which produce their own parts and hence themselves, are discussed and exemplified. This makes possible a clear distinction between living beings and ordinary machines. Stronger conditions are summarized under the concept of self-maintenance as an almost unique character of living (...)
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  46. Axel Honneth (1998). Between Proceduralism and Teleology: An Unresolved Conflict in Dewey's Moral Theory. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 34 (3):689 - 711.
  47. Harmon R. Holcomb Iii (1986). Causes, Ends, and the Units of Selection. Philosophy Research Archives 12:519-539.
    This paper inquires into the very possibility of the units of selection debate’s origin in the problem of altruism, function in articulating the evolutionary synthesis, and philosophical status as a problem in clarifying what makes something a level or unit of selection. What makes the debate possible? In terms of origins, there are a number of logically possible ways to deviate from the model of Darwinian individual selection to explain evolved traits. In terms of function, adherence to the evolutionary synthesis (...)
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  48. Ingvar Johansson, Barry Smith, Katherine Munn, Nikoloz Tsikolia, Kathleen Elsner, Dominikus Ernst & Dirk Siebert (2005). Functional Anatomy: A Taxonomic Proposal. Acta Biotheoretica 53 (3).
    It is argued that medical science requires a classificatory system that (a) puts functions in the taxonomic center and (b) does justice ontologically to the difference between the processes which are the realizations of functions and the objects which are their bearers. We propose formulae for constructing such a system and describe some of its benefits. The arguments are general enough to be of interest to all the life sciences.
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  49. Daniel Kahn & Hans V. Westerhoff (1993). The Regulatory Strength: How to Be Precise About Regulation and Homeostasis. Acta Biotheoretica 41 (1-2).
    The concepts of regulation and homeostasis are of frequent use but lack a single universally accepted definition. Here we propose a definition of theregulatory strength andhomeostatic strength, which allow to assess the importance of a regulatory pathway in a quantitative fashion.
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  50. Yoshimi Kawade (2009). On the Nature of the Subjectivity of Living Things. Biosemiotics 2 (2):205-220.
    A biosemiotic view of living things is presented that supersedes the mechanistic view of life prevalent in biology today. Living things are active agents with autonomous subjectivity, whose structure is triadic, consisting of the individual organism, its Umwelt and the society. Sociality inheres in every living thing since the very origin of life on the earth. The temporality of living things is guided by the purpose to live, which works as the semantic boundary condition for the processes of embodiment of (...)
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