Arno Wouters Erasmus University of Rotterdam
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  • Postdoc, Erasmus University of Rotterdam
  • PhD, Utrecht University, 1998.

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Arno Wouters studied biology (Wageningen) and philosophy (Groningen) and earned a PhD in philosophy of science (Utrecht). He specializes in philosophy of biology and philosophy of action. He is currently involved in a research project that aims to think through the implications of the paradigm of adaptive unconsciousness in social and moral psychology for philosophical action theory.
My works
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  1. Maureen Sie & Arno Wouters (2010). The BCN Challenge to Compatibilist Free Will and Personal Responsibility. Neuroethics 3 (2):121-133.
    Many philosophers ignore developments in the behavioral, cognitive, and neurosciences that purport to challenge our ideas of free will and responsibility. The reason for this is that the challenge is often framed as a denial of the idea that we are able to act differently than we do. However, most philosophers think that the ability to do otherwise is irrelevant to responsibility and free will. Rather it is our ability to act for reasons that is crucial. We argue that the (...)
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  2. Maureen Sie & Arno Wouters (2008). The Real Challenge to Free Will and Responsibility. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 12 (1):3-4.
    Adina Roskies has argued that worries that recent developments in the neurosciences challenge our ideas of free will and responsibility are misguided. Her argument focuses on the idea that we are able to act differently than we do. However, according to a dominant view in contemporary philosophy, the ability to do otherwise is irrelevant to our judgments of responsibility and free will. It rather is our ability to act for reasons that is crucial. We argue that this view is most (...)
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  3. Arno G. Wouters (2007). Design Explanation: Determining the Constraints on What Can Be Alive. [REVIEW] Erkenntnis 67 (1):65-80.
    This paper is concerned with reasonings that purport to explain why certain organisms have certain traits by showing that their actual design is better than contrasting designs. Biologists call such reasonings ‘functional explanations’. To avoid confusion with other uses of that phrase, I call them ‘design explanations’. This paper discusses the structure of design explanations and how they contribute to scientific understanding. Design explanations are contrastive and often compare real organisms to hypothetical organisms that cannot possibly exist. They are not (...)
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  4. Arno Wouters (2006). What Functions Explain: Functional Explanation and Self-Reproducing Systems. [REVIEW] Acta Biotheoretica 54 (1):55-59.
  5. Arno Wouters (2005). Functional Explanation in Biology. Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 84 (1):269-293.
    This paper evaluates Kuipers' account of functional explanation in biology in view of an example of such an explanation taken from real biology. The example is the explanation of why electric fishes swim backwards (Lannoo and Lannoo 1993). Kuipers' account depicts the answer to a request for functional explanation as consisting only of statements that articulate a certain kind of consequence. It is argued that such an account fails to do justice to the main insight provided by the example explanation, (...)
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  6. Arno Wouters (2005). The Function Debate in Philosophy. Acta Biotheoretica 53 (2):123-151.
    This paper reviews the debate on the notion of biological function and on functional explanation as this takes place in philosophy. It describes the different perspectives, issues, intuitions, theories and arguments that have emerged. The author shows that the debate has been too heavily influenced by the concerns of a naturalistic philosophy of mind and argues that in order to improve our understanding of biology the attention should be shifted from the study of intuitions to the study of the actual (...)
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  7. Arno Wouters (2005). The Functional Perspective of Organismal Biology. In Thomas Reydon & Lia Hemerik (eds.), Current Themes in Theoretical Biology. Springer. 33--69.
    Following Mayr (1961) evolutionary biologists often maintain that the hallmark of biology is its evolutionary perspective. In this view, biologists distinguish themselves from other natural scientists by their emphasis on why-questions. Why-questions are legitimate in biology but not in other natural sciences because of the selective character of the process by means of which living objects acquire their characteristics. For that reason, why-questions should be answered in terms of natural selection. Functional biology is seen as a reductionist science that applies (...)
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  8. Arno Wouters (2004). Paul Sheldon Davies: Norms of Nature: Naturalism and the Nature of Functions. [REVIEW] Philosophy of Sciences 71 (2):220-222.
    Review of Paul Sheldon Davies *Norms of Nature* (2001).
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  9. Arno Wouters (2003). Four Notions of Biological Function. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 34 (4):633-668.
    I argue that there are at least four different ways in which the term 'function' is used in connection with the study of living organisms, namely: (1) function as (mere) activity, (2) function as biological role, (3) function as biological advantage, and (4) function as selected effect. Notion (1) refers to what an item does by itself; (2) refers to the contribution of an item or activity to a complex activity or capacity of an organism; (3) refers to the value (...)
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  10. Arno Wouters (2003). Philosophers on Function. [REVIEW] Acta Biotheoretica 51 (3):223-235.
    Review of André Ariew, Robert Cummins & Mark Perlman (eds.) *Functions: New Essays in the Philosophy of Psychology and Biology* (2002).
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  11. Arno G. Wouters (2003). Four Notions of Biological Function. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 34 (4):633-668.
    I argue that there are at least four different ways in which the term ‘function’ is used in connection with the study of living organisms, namely: (1) function as (mere) activity, (2) function as biological role, (3) function as biological advantage, and (4) function as selected effect. Notion (1) refers to what an item does by itself; (2) refers to the contribution of an item or activity to a complex activity or capacity of an organism; (3) refers to the value (...)
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  12. Arno Wouters (2002). Verklaren zonder oorzaken te geven. Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift Voor Wijsbegeerte 94 (3).
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  13. A. Wouters (1996). Plutarch's Comments on Plato's' Grammatical'(?) Theories: A Few Remarks on Quaestio Platonica X. In L. der Stockvant (ed.), Plutarchea Lovaniensia: A Miscellany of Essays on Plutarch. [S.N.]. 309--328.
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  14. Arno Wouters (1995). Viability Explanation. Biology and Philosophy 10 (4):435-457.
    This article deals with a type of functional explanation, viability explanation, that has been overlooked in recent philosophy of science. Viability explanations relate traits of organisms and their environments in terms of what an individual needs to survive and reproduce. I show that viability explanations are neither causal nor historical and that, therefore, they should be accounted for as a distinct type of explanation.
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  15. Arno Wouters (1993). Marx's Embryology of Society. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 23 (2):149-179.
  16. M. D. MacLeod & A. Wouters (1982). The Grammatical Papyri From Graeco-Roman Egypt: Contributions to the Study of the 'Ars Grammatica' in Antiquity. Journal of Hellenic Studies 102:258.
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