David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
In Thomas Reydon & Lia Hemerik (eds.), Current Themes in Theoretical Biology. Springer. 33--69 (2005)
Following Mayr (1961) evolutionary biologists often maintain that the hallmark of biology is its evolutionary perspective. In this view, biologists distinguish themselves from other natural scientists by their emphasis on why-questions. Why-questions are legitimate in biology but not in other natural sciences because of the selective character of the process by means of which living objects acquire their characteristics. For that reason, why-questions should be answered in terms of natural selection. Functional biology is seen as a reductionist science that applies physics and chemistry to answer how-questions but lacks a biological point of view of its own. In this paper I dispute this image of functional biology. A close look at the kinds of issues studied in biology and at the way in which these issues are studied shows that functional biology employs a distinctive biological perspective that is not rooted in selection. This functional perspective is characterized by its concern with the requirements of the life-state and the way in which these are met.
|Keywords||functional biology design explanation organicism why-questions in biology|
|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
Pierre-Olivier Méthot (2011). Research Traditions and Evolutionary Explanations in Medicine. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 32 (1):75-90.
Similar books and articles
Marjorie Grene (2004). The Philosophy of Biology: An Episodic History. Cambridge University Press.
Michel Morange (2009). Synthetic Biology: A Bridge Between Functional and Evolutionary Biology. Biological Theory 4 (4):368-377.
Martin Mahner & Mario Bunge (2001). Function and Functionalism: A Synthetic Perspective. Philosophy of Science 68 (1):75-94.
Paul Edmund Griffiths (2006). Function, Homology, and Character Individuation. Philosophy of Science 73 (1):1-25.
Arno Wouters (2005). Functional Explanation in Biology. Poznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities 84 (1):269-293.
Marc Lange (2004). The Autonomy of Functional Biology: A Reply to Rosenberg. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 19 (1):93-109.
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.
Peter McLaughlin (2001). What Functions Explain: Functional Explanation and Self-Reproducing Systems. Cambridge University Press.
Michel Morange (2010). How Evolutionary Biology Presently Pervades Cell and Molecular Biology. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 41 (1):113 - 120.
Arno Wouters (1995). Viability Explanation. Biology and Philosophy 10 (4):435-457.
Added to index2009-02-04
Total downloads42 ( #39,261 of 1,098,619 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #285,544 of 1,098,619 )
How can I increase my downloads?