David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 84 (1):269-293 (2005)
This paper evaluates Kuipers' account of functional explanation in biology in view of an example of such an explanation taken from real biology. The example is the explanation of why electric fishes swim backwards (Lannoo and Lannoo 1993). Kuipers' account depicts the answer to a request for functional explanation as consisting only of statements that articulate a certain kind of consequence. It is argued that such an account fails to do justice to the main insight provided by the example explanation, namely the insight into why backwards swimming is needed by fishes that locate their food by means of an electric radar. The paper sketches an improved account that does justice to this kind of insight. It is argued that this account is consistent with and complementary to Kuipers' insight that function attributions are established by means of a process of hypothetico-deductive reasoning guided by a heuristic principle.
|Keywords||functional explanation explanation by specification structure of explanation|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
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.
Citations of this work BETA
Arno Wouters (2005). The Function Debate in Philosophy. Acta Biotheoretica 53 (2):123-151.
Arno G. Wouters (2003). Four Notions of Biological Function. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 34 (4):633-668.
Arno Wouters (2003). Four Notions of Biological Function. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 34 (4):633-668.
Arno G. Wouters (2003). Four Notions of Biological Function. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 34 (4):633-668.
Similar books and articles
Robert C. Cummins (1975). Functional Analysis. Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.
Michael Strevens (2008). Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation. Harvard University Press.
Mary B. Williams (1976). The Logical Structure of Functional Explanations in Biology. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1976:37 - 46.
G. A. Cohen (1982). Functional Explanation, Consequence Explanation, and Marxism. Inquiry 25 (1):27 – 56.
Theo A. F. Kuipers & Andrzej Wiśniewski (1994). An Erotetic Approach to Explanation by Specification. Erkenntnis 40 (3):377 - 402.
Kuipers, Theo A. F. & Wisniewski, Andrzej (1994). An Erotetic Approach to Explanation by Specification. Erkenntnis 40 (3):377-402.
Justin Schwartz (1993). Functional Explanation and Metaphysical Individualism. Philosophy of Science 60 (2):278-301.
D. Turner (2000). The Functions of Fossils: Inference and Explanation in Functional Morphology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 31 (1):193-212.
Arno Wouters (1995). Viability Explanation. Biology and Philosophy 10 (4):435-457.
Mark Risjord (1999). No Strings Attached: Functional and Intentional Action Explanations. Philosophy of Science 66 (3):313.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads61 ( #70,382 of 1,907,520 )
Recent downloads (6 months)6 ( #127,771 of 1,907,520 )
How can I increase my downloads?