Self-re-production and functionality

Synthese 116 (3):303-354 (1998)
Function and teleology can be naturalized either by reference to systems with a particular type of organization or by reference to a particular kind of history . As functions are generally ascribed to states or traits according to their current role and regardless of their origin, etiological accounts are inappropriate. Here, I offer a systems-theoretical interpretation as a new version of an organizational account of functionality, which is more comprehensive than traditional cybernetic views and provides explicit criteria for empirically testable function ascriptions. I propose, that functional states, traits or items are those components of a complex system, which are under certain circumstances necessary for their self-re-production. I show, how this notion can be applied in intra- and trans-generational function ascriptions in biology, how it can deal with the problems of multifunctionality and functional equivalents, and how it relates to concepts like fitness and adaptation. Finally, I argue that most intentional explanations can be treated as functional explanations
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Logic   Metaphysics   Philosophy of Language
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1023/A:1005073307193
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,879
External links
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

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Gualtiero Piccinini (2007). Computing Mechanisms. Philosophy of Science 74 (4):501-526.
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.

View all 21 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

14 ( #180,137 of 1,725,192 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #268,573 of 1,725,192 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.