Functions as based on a concept of general design

Synthese 166 (1):69-89 (2009)
Abstract
Looking for an adequate explication of the concept of a biological function, several authors have proposed to link function to design. Unfortunately, known explications of biological design in turn refer to functions. The concept of general design I will introduce here breaks up this circle. I specify design with respect to its ontogenetic role. This allows function to be based on design without making reference to the history of the design, or to the phylogeny of an organism, while retaining the normative aspect of function ascriptions. The concept is applicable to the function and design of technical artifacts as well. Several problems well known with other definitions can be overcome by this approach.
Keywords Function  Malfunction  Biological design  Technical design  Cummins  Millikan  Type fixation
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    References found in this work BETA
    Morton Beckner (1969). Function and Teleology. Journal of the History of Biology 2 (1):151 - 164.
    Mark Bedau (1992). Where's the Good in Teleology? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52 (4):781-806.
    John Bigelow & Robert Pargetter (1987). Functions. Journal of Philosophy 84 (4):181-196.

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    Citations of this work BETA
    Wayne Christensen (2012). Natural Sources of Normativity. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (1):104-112.
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