David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Biology and Philosophy 22 (5):691-708 (2007)
“Functional homology” appears regularly in different areas of biological research and yet it is apparently a contradiction in terms—homology concerns identity of structure regardless of form and function. I argue that despite this conceptual tension there is a legitimate conception of ‘homology of function’, which can be recovered by utilizing a distinction from pre-Darwinian physiology (use versus activity) to identify an appropriate meaning of ‘function’. This account is directly applicable to molecular developmental biology and shares a connection to the theme of hierarchy in homology. I situate ‘homology of function’ within existing definitions and criteria for structural assessments of homology, and introduce a criterion of ‘organization’ for judging function homologues, which focuses on hierarchically interconnected interdependencies (similar to relative position and connection for skeletal elements in structural homology). This analysis of biological concepts has at least three broad philosophical consequences: (1) it provides the grounds for the study of behavior and psychological categories as homologues; (2) it demonstrates that philosophers who take selected effect function as primary effectively ignore large portions of comparative, structural, and experimental research, thereby misconstruing biological reasoning and knowledge; and, (3) it underwrites causal generalizations, which illuminates inferences made from model organisms in experimental biology.
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Citations of this work BETA
John S. Wilkins (2015). Gods Above: Naturalizing Religion in Terms of Our Shared Ape Social Dominance Behavior. Sophia 54 (1):77-92.
Alan C. Love (2015). ChINs, Swarms, and Variational Modalities: Concepts in the Service of an Evolutionary Research Program. Biology and Philosophy 30 (6):873-888.
Jason A. Clark (2010). Relations of Homology Between Higher Cognitive Emotions and Basic Emotions. Biology and Philosophy 25 (1):75-94.
Jason Clark (2012). Integrating Basic and Higher-Cognitive Emotions Within a Common Evolutionary Framework: Lessons From the Transformation of Primate Dominance Into Human Pride. Philosophical Psychology 26 (3):437-460.
Thomas A. C. Reydon (2009). Gene Names as Proper Names of Individuals: An Assessment. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (2):409-432.
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