Ontology and teleofunctions: A defense and revision of the systematic account of teleological explanation

Synthese 150 (1):69 - 98 (2006)
Abstract
I defend and revise the systematic account of normative functions (teleofunctions), as recently developed by Gerhard Schlosser and by W. D. Christensen and M. H. Bickhard. This account proposes that teleofunctions are had by structures that play certain kinds of roles in complex systems. This theory is an alternative to the historical etiological account of teleofunctions, developed by Ruth Millikan and others. The historical etiological account is susceptible to a general ontological problem that has been under-appreciated, and that offers important reasons to adopt the systematic account. However, the systematic account must be revised to allow for two distinct kinds of teleofunctions in order to avoid another ontological problem.
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Sune Holm (2013). Organism and Artifact: Proper Functions in Paley Organisms. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):706-713.
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