Natural selection and the unity of functional analyses

Philosophy of Science 77 (4):633-645 (2010)
While the question of whether selected-effects accounts of function or causal-role accounts of function provide the ‘true' functional analysis has given way to a general pluralistic consensus, Philip Kitcher has suggested that different functional accounts allow for unification. I argue that Kitcher's attempt to unify the two functional analyses fails because he adopts the environment-centered perspective on selection as a premise. The premise is undermined by the role niche construction is likely to play in the context of evolution. Moreover, I raise the tentative suggestion that niche construction may threaten the applicability, or at least the relevance, of selected-effects ascriptions. *Received October 2009; revised May 2010. †To contact the author, please write to: Institut für Philosophie Fakultät für Philosophie und Bildungswissenschaft, Universität Wien, Universitätsstraße 7 1010 Wien, Austria; e-mail:
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