The functions of fossils: Inference and explanation in functional morphology

This paper offers an account of the relationship between inference and explanation in functional morphology which combines Robert Brandon's theory of adaptation explanation with standard accounts of inference to the best explanation. Inferences of function from structure, it is argued, are inferences to the best adaptation explanation. There are, however, three different approaches to the problem of determining which adaptation explanation is the best. The theory of inference to the best adaptation explanation is then applied to a case study from the history of functional morphology: the case of the crested duckbilled dinosaurs.
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References found in this work BETA
John Bigelow & Robert Pargetter (1987). Functions. Journal of Philosophy 84 (4):181-196.
Robert C. Cummins (1975). Functional Analysis. Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.
Daniel C. Dennett (1996). Darwin's Dangerous Idea. Behavior and Philosophy 24 (2):169-174.

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Citations of this work BETA
Derek D. Turner (2005). Misleading Observable Analogues in Paleontology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 36 (1):175-183.
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