David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Synthese 161 (2):203 - 218 (2008)
A meaningful distinction can be made between functions and mere effects in biological systems without resorting to teleological arguments: (i) biological systems must cope with a multitude of problems or they will cease to exist; (ii) the solutions to these problems invariably depend on circular causal chains (“feedback loops”); and (iii) biological functions are attributes of elements in biological systems that have an effect which, by contributing to the correcting behavior of a feedback control system, assists in solving a biological problem. The analysis is applied to several biological systems. The proposed solution is discussed primarily in its relation to two popular approaches to the concept of biological function, i.e., the “causal role accounts” and the “selected effect accounts”.
|Keywords||Biological function Causal chains Teleology|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
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.
Wayne Christensen (1996). A Complex Systems Theory of Teleology. Biology and Philosophy 11 (3):301-320.
Robert C. Cummins (1975). Functional Analysis. Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.
Paul E. Griffiths (1993). Functional Analysis and Proper Functions. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (3):409-422.
Philip Kitcher (1993). Function and Design. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 18 (1):379-397.
Citations of this work BETA
Daniel J. Nicholson (2012). The Concept of Mechanism in Biology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (1):152-163.
Kepa Ruiz-Mirazo & Alvaro Moreno (2012). Autonomy in Evolution: From Minimal to Complex Life. Synthese 185 (1):21-52.
Bruce Wilson (2013). Metaphysics and Medical Education: Taking Holism Seriously. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 19 (3):478-484.
Daniel J. Nicholson (2013). Organisms ≠ Machines. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):669-678.
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.
Similar books and articles
Ulrich Krohs (2009). Functions as Based on a Concept of General Design. Synthese 166 (1):69-89.
Beth Preston (2009). Biological and Cultural Proper Functions in Comparative Perspective. In Ulrich Krohs & Peter Kroes (eds.), Functions in Biological and Artificial Worlds: Comparative Philosophical Perspectives. Mit Press.
Titus R. Neumann, Susanne Huber & Heinrich H. Bülthoff (2001). Artificial Systems as Models in Biological Cybernetics. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24 (6):1071-1072.
Kenneth G. Ferguson (2007). Biological Function and Normativity. Philo 10 (1):17-26.
Robert Wachbroit (1994). Normality as a Biological Concept. Philosophy of Science 61 (4):579-591.
Pieter E. Vermaas (2009). On Unification : Taking Technical Functions as Objective (and Biological Functions as Subjective). In Ulrich Krohs & Peter Kroes (eds.), Functions in Biological and Artificial Worlds: Comparative Philosophical Perspectives. Mit Press.
Berent Enç (2004). Causal Theories of Intentional Behavior and Wayward Causal Chains. Behavior and Philosophy 32 (1):149 - 166.
C. Saborido, M. Mossio & A. Moreno (2011). Biological Organization and Cross-Generation Functions. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 62 (3):583-606.
Matteo Mossio, Cristian Saborido & Alvaro Moreno (2009). An Organizational Account of Biological Functions. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (4):813-841.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads36 ( #57,994 of 1,692,449 )
Recent downloads (6 months)4 ( #59,665 of 1,692,449 )
How can I increase my downloads?