Functional explanation in context

Philosophy of Science 76 (2):253-269 (2009)
The claim that a functional kind is multiply realized is typically motivated by appeal to intuitive examples. We are seldom told explicitly what the relevant structures are, and people have often preferred to rely on general intuitions in these cases. This article deals with the problem by explaining how to understand the proper relation between structural kinds and the functions they realize. I will suggest that the structural kinds that realize a function can be properly identified by attending to the context of functional explanation. *Received June 2006; revised June 2009. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, Seton Hall University, 400 South Orange Ave., South Orange, NJ 07079; e‐mail:
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