David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 34 (4):633-668 (2003)
I argue that there are at least four different ways in which the term ‘function’ is used in connection with the study of living organisms, namely: (1) function as (mere) activity, (2) function as biological role, (3) function as biological advantage, and (4) function as selected effect. Notion (1) refers to what an item does by itself; (2) refers to the contribution of an item or activity to a complex activity or capacity of an organism; (3) refers to the value for the organism of an item having a certain character rather than another; (4) refers to the way in which a trait acquired and has maintained its current share in the population. The recognition of a separate notion of function as biological advantage solves the problem of the indeterminate reference situation that has been raised against a counterfactual analysis of function, and emphasizes the importance of counterfactual comparison in the explanatory practice of organismal biology. This reveals a neglected problem in the philosophy of biology, namely that of accounting for the insights provided.
|Keywords||function functional explanation counterfactual comparison survival value forward looking account|
|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
Helena Siipi (2008). Dimensions of Naturalness. Ethics and the Environment 13 (1):pp. 71-103.
Justin Garson (2011). Selected Effects and Causal Role Functions in the Brain: The Case for an Etiological Approach to Neuroscience. Biology and Philosophy 26 (4):547-565.
Predrag Šustar (2007). Neo-Functional Analysis: Phylogenetical Restrictions on Causal Role Functions. Philosophy of Science 74 (5):601-615.
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.
Justin Garson (2012). Function, Selection, and Construction in the Brain. Synthese 189 (3):451-481.
Similar books and articles
Arno Wouters (2005). The Function Debate in Philosophy. Acta Biotheoretica 53 (2):123-151.
Mohan Matthen (2007). Defining Vision: What Homology Thinking Contributes. Biology and Philosophy 22 (5):675-689.
Mark Rowlands (1997). Teleological Semantics. Mind 106 (422):279-304.
Richard J. Hall (1990). Does Representational Content Arise From Biological Function? PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1990:193 - 199.
Colin Allen & Marc Bekoff (1995). Biological Function, Adaptation, and Natural Design. Philosophy of Science 62 (4):609-622.
Alan C. Love (2007). Functional Homology and Homology of Function: Biological Concepts and Philosophical Consequences. Biology and Philosophy 22 (5):691-708.
Robert Arp (2007). Evolution and Two Popular Proposals for the Definition of Function. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 38 (1):19 - 30.
D. M. Walsh (1996). Fitness and Function. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 47 (4):553-574.
Paul Edmund Griffiths (2006). Function, Homology, and Character Individuation. Philosophy of Science 73 (1):1-25.
Arno Wouters (2003). Four Notions of Biological Function. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 34 (4):633-668.
Added to index2009-02-04
Total downloads63 ( #27,008 of 1,139,956 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #96,101 of 1,139,956 )
How can I increase my downloads?