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  1. Function as a Causal Role in a Biological Model.Maël Lemoine - manuscript
    Philosophers of biology usually distinguish historical and systemic accounts of functions. In many areas of experimental biology the "systemic" account is often the most relevant. Yet there are problems this account does admittedly not face up to very well. My contention is that, though two minor problems are irredeemably unsolvable for the systemic account of function, the major ones can be solved by assuming that 'function' denotes (directly) a causal role in a model and (indirectly) the corresponding process in nature. (...)
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  2. Capabilities.Eric Merrell, David Limbaugh, Peter Koch & Barry Smith - manuscript
    We propose a definition of capability as a class intermediate between function and disposition as the latter are defined in Basic Formal Ontology (BFO). A disposition inheres in a material entity and is realized in a certain kind of process. An example is the disposition of a glass to break when struck, which is realized when it shatters. A function is a disposition which is (simply put) the rationale for the existence of its bearer. To say for example that a (...)
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  3. A Dual-Aspect Theory of Artifact Function.Marc Artiga - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-22.
    The goal of this essay is to put forward an original theory of artifact function, which takes on board the results of the debate on the notion of biological function and also accommodates the distinctive aspects of artifacts. More precisely, the paper develops and defends the Dual-Aspect Theory, which is a monist account according to which an artifact’s function depends on intentional and reproductive aspects. It is argued that this approach meets a set of theoretical and meta-theoretical desiderata and is (...)
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  4. Proper Functionalism and the Organizational Theory of Functions.Peter J. Graham - forthcoming - In Luis R. G. Oliveira (ed.), Externalism about Knowledge. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  5. Bodies, Functions, and Imperfections.Sherri Irvin - forthcoming - In Peter Cheyne (ed.), Perfection and Imperfection in Art and Everyday Life. Routledge.
    The culturally pervasive tendency to identify aspects of the body as aesthetically imperfect harms individuals and scaffolds injustice related to disability, race, gender, LGBTQ+ identities, and fatness. But abandoning the notion of imperfection may not respect people’s reasonable understandings of their own bodies. I examine the prospects for a practice of aesthetic assessment grounded in a notion of the body’s function. I argue that functional aesthetic assessment, to be respectful, requires understanding the body’s functions as complex, malleable, and determined by (...)
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  6. Inconsistency Between the Circulatory and the Brain Criteria of Death in the Uniform Determination of Death Act.Alberto Molina-Pérez, James L. Bernat & Anne Dalle-Ave - forthcoming - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy.
    Since 1968, a brain-based criterion of death has been adopted in medical practice and passed into law or national guidelines in most countries worldwide. In some countries, such as Australia, Spain, and the United States, death can be determined by either the circulatory and respiratory criterion or by the neurological criterion. This practice corresponds to recommendations by the World Health Organization and the World Medical Association. In the USA, the Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA) provides that “an individual who (...)
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  7. Biomedical Ontologies.Barry Smith - forthcoming - In Peter Elkin (ed.), Terminology, Ontology and their Implementations. Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
    We begin at the beginning, with an outline of Aristotle’s views on ontology and with a discussion of the influence of these views on Linnaeus. We move from there to consider the data standardization initiatives launched in the 19th century, and then turn to investigate how the idea of computational ontologies developed in the AI and knowledge representation communities in the closing decades of the 20th century. We show how aspects of this idea, particularly those relating to the use of (...)
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  8. Darwinian Functional Biology.Ginnobili Santiago - 2022 - Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 37 (2):233-255.
    Abstract One of the most important things that the Darwinian revolution affected is the previous teleological thinking. In particular, the attribution of functions to various entities of the natural world with explanatory pretensions. In this change, his theory of natural selection played an important role. We all agree on that, but the diversity and heterogeneity of the answers that try to explain what Darwin did exactly with functional biology are overwhelming. In this paper I will try to show how Darwin (...)
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  9. Bacterial Communication.Marc Artiga - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (4):1-19.
    Recent research on bacteria and other microorganisms has provided interesting insights into the nature of life, cooperation, evolution, individuality or species. In this paper, I focus on the capacity of bacteria to produce molecules that are usually classified as ’signals’ and I defend two claims. First, I argue that certain interactions between bacteria should actually qualify as genuine forms of communication. Second, I use this case study to revise our general theories of signaling. Among other things, I argue that a (...)
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  10. Biological Functions and Natural Selection: A Reappraisal.Marc Artiga - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (2):1-22.
    The goal of this essay is to assess the Selected-Effects Etiological Theory of biological function, according to which a trait has a function F if and only if it has been selected for F. First, I argue that this approach should be understood as describing the paradigm case of functions, rather than as establishing necessary and sufficient conditions for function possession. I contend that, interpreted in this way, the selected-effects approach can explain two central properties of functions and can satisfactorily (...)
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  11. An Externalist Teleology.Gunnar Babcock & Daniel W. McShea - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):8755-8780.
    Teleology has a complicated history in the biological sciences. Some have argued that Darwin’s theory has allowed biology to purge itself of teleological explanations. Others have been content to retain teleology and to treat it as metaphorical, or have sought to replace it with less problematic notions like teleonomy. And still others have tried to naturalize it in a way that distances it from the vitalism of the nineteenth century, focusing on the role that function plays in teleological explanation. No (...)
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  12. Mechanism, Autonomy and Biological Explanation.Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (6):1-27.
    The new mechanists and the autonomy approach both aim to account for how biological phenomena are explained. One identifies appeals to how components of a mechanism are organized so that their activities produce a phenomenon. The other directs attention towards the whole organism and focuses on how it achieves self-maintenance. This paper discusses challenges each confronts and how each could benefit from collaboration with the other: the new mechanistic framework can gain by taking into account what happens outside individual mechanisms, (...)
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  13. A Functional Naturalism.Anthony Nguyen - 2021 - Synthese 198 (1):295-313.
    I provide two arguments against value-free naturalism. Both are based on considerations concerning biological teleology. Value-free naturalism is the thesis that both (1) everything is, at least in principle, under the purview of the sciences and (2) all scientific facts are purely non-evaluative. First, I advance a counterexample to any analysis on which natural selection is necessary to biological teleology. This should concern the value-free naturalist, since most value-free analyses of biological teleology appeal to natural selection. My counterexample is unique (...)
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  14. Teleological Powers.Michele Paolini Paoletti - 2021 - Analytic Philosophy 62 (4):336-358.
    In this article I develop a metaphysical account of final causes grounded on contemporary powers metaphysics. After having presented some key elements of an Aristotle-inspired teleology, i.e., the study of final causes within Aristotelian tradition, I introduce powers. Moreover, I present some theses about their nature and features. Afterwards, I distinguish between two kinds of powers that are expected to play the roles traditionally attributed to final causes: weakly teleological powers and strongly teleological powers. Weakly teleological powers are those powers (...)
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  15. Functional Powers.Michele Paolini Paoletti - 2021 - In Ludger Jansen & Petter Sandstad (eds.), Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives on Formal Causation. Routledge. pp. 124-148.
    I introduce functional powers, i.e., causal powers that play the role of functions. In the first section, I characterize functions and present some desiderata for a good theory of functions. In the second section, I make some assumptions about the ontology of powers, teleology and structures-that will be helpful in order to ground my account of functional powers. In the third section, sixteen different types of functional powers are examined. All such types of functional powers will exhaustively contribute to performing (...)
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  16. No Functions for Rocks: Garson’s Generalized Selected Effects Theory and the Liberality Problem.Peter Schulte - 2021 - Analysis 81 (2):369-378.
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  17. The Function of Assertion and Social Norms.Peter Graham - 2020 - In Sanford Goldberg (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Assertion. New York, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 727-748.
    A proper function of an entity is a beneficial effect that helps explain the persistence of the entity. Proper functions thereby arise through feedback mechanisms with beneficial effects as inputs and persistence as outputs. We continue to make assertions because they benefit speakers by benefiting speakers. Hearers benefit from true information. Speakers benefit by influencing hearer belief. If hearers do not benefit, they will not form beliefs in response to assertions. Speakers can then only maintain influence by providing true information, (...)
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  18. Functions and Functioning in Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic and in Ecology.Roberta L. Millstein - 2020 - Philosophy of Science 87 (5):1107-1118.
    I examine the use of the term function in Aldo Leopold’s land ethic, invoked as (1) the healthy functioning of the land community, which is dependent on (2) the maintenance of the characteristic functions of populations that are parts of the land community. The latter can be understood as referring to interactions between species that are the products of coevolution (such as parasite-host, predator-prey) and, thus, in terms of the “selected effect” account of function. The performance of these functions under (...)
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  19. Systemic Analysis and Functional Explanation: Structure and Limitations.Andrea Soledad Olmos, Ariel Jonathan Roffé & Santiago Ginnobili - 2020 - In Lorenzo Baravalle & Luciana Zaterka (eds.), Life and Evolution: Latin American Essays on the History and Philosophy of Biology. pp. 209-229.
    How questions and why questions interact in complex ways within biological practice. One of the most fruitful accounts to think about this relation is the widely known systemic approach, which has its origin mainly in the works of Robert Cummins (1975, 1983). As we will show, this approach effectively manages to capture much of what biologists do, especially in areas such as molecular biology, neuroscience and neuroethology. Our aim with this work is to discuss the metatheoretical status of the presuppositions (...)
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  20. Artificial Life and ‘Nature’s Purposes’: The Question of Behavioral Autonomy.Elena Popa - 2020 - Human Affairs 30 (4):587-596.
    This paper investigates the concept of behavioral autonomy in Artificial Life by drawing a parallel to the use of teleological notions in the study of biological life. Contrary to one of the leading assumptions in Artificial Life research, I argue that there is a significant difference in how autonomous behavior is understood in artificial and biological life forms: the former is underlain by human goals in a way that the latter is not. While behavioral traits can be explained in relation (...)
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  21. From Paradigm-Based Explanation to Pragmatic Genealogy.Matthieu Queloz - 2020 - Mind 129 (515):683-714.
    Why would philosophers interested in the points or functions of our conceptual practices bother with genealogical explanations if they can focus directly on paradigmatic examples of the practices we now have?? To answer this question, I compare the method of pragmatic genealogy advocated by Edward Craig, Bernard Williams, and Miranda Fricker—a method whose singular combination of fictionalising and historicising has met with suspicion—with the simpler method of paradigm-based explanation. Fricker herself has recently moved towards paradigm-based explanation, arguing that it is (...)
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  22. Ontologies for Space and Ground Systems.Barry Smith - 2020 - In Ground System Architectures Workshop. Los Angeles, CA: GSAW. pp. 1-3.
    We will survey a range of ontologies relevant to space and ground system domains. The ontologies form part of the Common Core Ontology ecosystem (CCO) developed under the IARPA KDD initiative. We focus specifically on the Space Domain Ontologies, a suite of ontologies to support space situational awareness, including the Spacecraft Mission Ontology, Spacecraft Ontology, Space Event Ontology and Space Object Ontology.
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  23. Internal Perspectivalism: The Solution to Generality Problems About Proper Function and Natural Norms.Jason Winning - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (33):1-22.
    In this paper, I argue that what counts as the proper function of a trait is a matter of the de facto perspective that the biological system, itself, possesses on what counts as proper functioning for that trait. Unlike non-perspectival accounts, internal perspectivalism does not succumb to generality problems. But unlike external perspectivalism, internal perspectivalism can provide a fully naturalistic, mind-independent grounding of proper function and natural norms. The attribution of perspectives to biological systems is intended to be neither metaphorical (...)
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  24. Are There Teleological Functions to Compute?Dimitri Coelho Mollo - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (3):431-452.
    I analyze a tension at the core of the mechanistic view of computation generated by its joint commitment to the medium independence of computational vehicles and to computational systems possessing teleological functions to compute. While computation is individuated in medium-independent terms, teleology is sensitive to the constitutive physical properties of vehicles. This tension spells trouble for the mechanistic view, suggesting that there can be no teleological functions to compute. I argue that, once considerations about the relevant function-bestowing factors for computational (...)
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  25. An Organisational Approach to Biological Communication.Ramiro Frick, Leonardo Bich & Alvaro Moreno - 2019 - Acta Biotheoretica (2):103-128.
    This paper aims to provide a philosophical and theoretical account of biological communication grounded in the notion of organisation. The organisational approach characterises living systems as organised in such a way that they are capable to self-produce and self-maintain while in constant interaction with the environment. To apply this theoretical framework to the study of biological communication, we focus on a specific approach, based on the notion of influence, according to which communication takes place when a signal emitted by a (...)
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  26. Do Constancy Mechanisms Save Distal Content?Justin Garson - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (275):409-417.
    In this journal, Schulte develops a novel solution to the problem of distal content: by virtue of what is a mental representation about a distal object rather than a more proximal cause of that representation? Schulte maintains that in order for a representation to have a distal content, it must be produced by a constancy mechanism, along with two other conditions. I raise three objections to his solution. First, a core component of Schulte's solution is just a restrictive version of (...)
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  27. Teleosemantics, Selection and Novel Contents.Justin Garson & David Papineau - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (3):36.
    Mainstream teleosemantics is the view that mental representation should be understood in terms of biological functions, which, in turn, should be understood in terms of selection processes. One of the traditional criticisms of teleosemantics is the problem of novel contents: how can teleosemantics explain our ability to represent properties that are evolutionarily novel? In response, some have argued that by generalizing the notion of a selection process to include phenomena such as operant conditioning, and the neural selection that underlies it, (...)
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  28. Why is Warrant Normative?Peter J. Graham - 2019 - Philosophical Issues 29 (1):110-128.
    Having an etiological function to F is sufficient to have a competence to F. Having an etiological function to reliably F is sufficient to have a reliable competence, a competence to reliably F. Epistemic warrant consists in the normal functioning of the belief-forming process when the process has forming true beliefs reliably as an etiological function. Epistemic warrant requires reliable competence. Warrant divides into two grades. The first consists in normal functioning, when the process has forming true beliefs reliably as (...)
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  29. Membranes to Molecular Machines: Active Matter and the Remaking of Life.Mathias Grote - 2019 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    Today's science tells us that our bodies are filled with molecular machinery that orchestrates all sorts of life processes. When we think, microscopic "channels" open and close in our brain cell membranes; when we run, tiny "motors" spin in our muscle cell membranes; and when we see, light operates "molecular switches" in our eyes and nerves. A molecular-mechanical vision of life has become commonplace in both the halls of philosophy and the offices of drug companies, where researchers are developing “proton (...)
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  30. Explaining How to Perceive the New: Causal-Informational Teleosemantics and Productive Response Functions.Fabian Hundertmark - 2019 - Synthese 198 (6):5335-5350.
    According to Karen Neander’s causal-informational teleosemantics, the contents of perceptual states depend on the etiological response functions of sensory-perceptual systems. In this paper, I argue that this theory is, despite its virtues, unable to explain how humans and other animals are capable of perceiving properties with which no sensory-perceptual system has ever been confronted. After rejecting Neander’s own proposal in terms of second-order similarity and a proposal inspired by Ruth Millikan in terms of simplicity, I offer a solution which equates (...)
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  31. Systemic Functional Adaptedness and Domain-General Cognition: Broadening the Scope of Evolutionary Psychology.Michael Lundie - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (1):8.
    Evolutionary psychology tends to be associated with a massively modular cognitive architecture. On this framework of human cognition, an assembly of specialized information processors called modules developed under selection pressures encountered throughout the phylogenic history of hominids. The coordinated activity of domain-specific modules carries out all the processes of belief fixation, abstract reasoning, and other facets of central cognition. Against the massive modularity thesis, I defend an account of systemic functional adaptedness, according to which non-modular systems emerged because of adaptive (...)
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  32. Functional Diversity: An Epistemic Roadmap.Christophe Malaterre, Antoine C. Dussault, Sophia Rousseau-Mermans, Gillian Barker, Beatrix E. Beisner, Frédéric Bouchard, Eric Desjardins, Tanya I. Handa, Steven W. Kembel, Geneviève Lajoie, Virginie Maris, Alison D. Munson, Jay Odenbaugh, Timothée Poisot, B. Jesse Shapiro & Curtis A. Suttle - 2019 - BioScience 10 (69):800-811.
    Functional diversity holds the promise of understanding ecosystems in ways unattainable by taxonomic diversity studies. Underlying this promise is the intuition that investigating the diversity of what organisms actually do—i.e. their functional traits—within ecosystems will generate more reliable insights into the ways these ecosystems behave, compared to considering only species diversity. But this promise also rests on several conceptual and methodological—i.e. epistemic—assumptions that cut across various theories and domains of ecology. These assumptions should be clearly addressed, notably for the sake (...)
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  33. Against Etiological Function Accounts of Interests.Katie McShane - 2019 - Synthese 198 (4):3499-3517.
    The etiological account of function defines a part’s/trait’s function as whatever that part/trait does and was selected for doing. Some philosophers have tried to employ this as an account of biological interests, claiming that to benefit an organism is to promote its etiological functioning and to harm it is to inhibit such functioning. I argue that etiological functioning is not a good account of biological interests. I first describe the history of theories of biological interests, explaining the special role that (...)
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  34. Possibility Spaces and the Notion of Novelty: From Music to Biology.Maël Montévil - 2019 - Synthese 196 (11):4555-4581.
    We provide a new perspective on the relation between the space of description of an object and the appearance of novelties. One of the aims of this perspective is to facilitate the interaction between mathematics and historical sciences. The definition of novelties is paradoxical: if one can define in advance the possibles, then they are not genuinely new. By analyzing the situation in set theory, we show that defining generic (i.e., shared) and specific (i.e., individual) properties of elements of a (...)
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  35. On Ordered Pluralism.Matthieu Queloz - 2019 - Australasian Philosophical Review 3 (3):305-11.
    This paper examines Miranda Fricker’s method of paradigm-based explanation and in particular its promise of yielding an ordered pluralism. Fricker’s starting point is a schism between two conceptions of forgiveness, Moral Justice Forgiveness and Gifted Forgiveness. In the light of a hypothesis about the basic point of forgiveness, she reveals the unity underlying the initially baffling plurality and brings order into it, presenting a paradigmatic form of forgiveness as explanatorily basic and other forms as derivative. The resulting picture, she claims, (...)
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  36. Integrative Pluralism for Biological Function.Beckett Sterner & Samuel Cusimano - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (6):1-21.
    We introduce a new type of pluralism about biological function that, in contrast to existing, demonstrates a practical integration among the term’s different meanings. In particular, we show how to generalize Sandra Mitchell’s notion of integrative pluralism to circumstances where multiple epistemic tools of the same type are jointly necessary to solve scientific problems. We argue that the multiple definitions of biological function operate jointly in this way based on how biologists explain the evolution of protein function. To clarify how (...)
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  37. Deception: A Functional Account.Marc Artiga & Cédric Paternotte - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (3):579-600.
    Deception has recently received a significant amount of attention. One of main reasons is that it lies at the intersection of various areas of research, such as the evolution of cooperation, animal communication, ethics or epistemology. This essay focuses on the biological approach to deception and argues that standard definitions put forward by most biologists and philosophers are inadequate. We provide a functional account of deception which solves the problems of extant accounts in virtue of two characteristics: deceptive states have (...)
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  38. Function and Malfunction in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences and Social Sciences: Fourth European Advanced Seminar in the Philosophy of the Life Sciences, Klosterneuburg, Austria, 5–9 September 2016.Thomas Bonnin, Paola Hernández-Chávez, Michal Hladky & C. David Suárez Pascal - 2018 - Biological Theory 13 (1):39-43.
  39. On Affect: Function and Phenomenology.Andreas Elpidorou - 2018 - Humana Mente 11 (34):155-184.
    This paper explores the nature of emotions by considering what appear to be two differing, perhaps even conflicting, approaches to affectivity—an evolutionary functional account, on the one hand, and a phenomenological view, on the other. The paper argues for the centrality of the notion of function in both approaches, articulates key differences between them, and attempts to understand how such differences can be overcome.
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  40. How to Be a Function Pluralist.Justin Garson - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (4):1101-1122.
    I distinguish two forms of pluralism about biological functions, between-discipline pluralism and within-discipline pluralism. Between-discipline pluralism holds that different theories of function are appropriate for different subdisciplines of biology and psychology. I provide reasons for rejecting this view. Instead, I recommend within-discipline pluralism, which emphasizes the plurality of function concepts at play within any given subdiscipline of biology and psychology.
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  41. La teoría de la selección natural. Una exploración metacientífica.Santiago Ginnobili - 2018 - Bernal: Universidad Nacional de Quilmes.
    Este libro analiza y reconstruye una de las teorías científicas que más discusiones han provocado en el ámbito de la biología, de la filosofía y de la sociedad: la teoría de la selección natural. Esta teoría, que ocupa un lugar central en la biología evolutiva, se encuentra en el centro de la revolución darwiniana, uno de los cambios más radicales ocurridos en la historia de la ciencia y, sin dudas, uno de los que más consecuencias han tenido sobre la ciencia (...)
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  42. Beyond Cognitive Myopia: A Patchwork Approach to the Concept of Neural Function.Philipp Haueis - 2018 - Synthese 195 (12):5373-5402.
    In this paper, I argue that looking at the concept of neural function through the lens of cognition alone risks cognitive myopia: it leads neuroscientists to focus only on mechanisms with cognitive functions that process behaviorally relevant information when conceptualizing “neural function”. Cognitive myopia tempts researchers to neglect neural mechanisms with noncognitive functions which do not process behaviorally relevant information but maintain and repair neural and other systems of the body. Cognitive myopia similarly affects philosophy of neuroscience because scholars overlook (...)
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  43. Function and Malfunction in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences and Social Sciences.Michal Hladky, Paola Hernández-Chávez, Thomas Bonnin & David Suárez Pascal - 2018 - Biological Theory 13 (1):39-43.
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  44. Mind and Function – Teleosemantics Beyond Selected Effects.Fabian Hundertmark - 2018 - Dissertation, Universität Bielefeld
    Perceptual representations are either correct or incorrect. Their correctness depends on their content and on the way the world is. Teleosemantics delivers compelling explanations of why our perceptual representations have contents, whereby it assigns the notion of "function" a central explanatory role. The author of this thesis engages in the search for a theory of function suited for this purpose. After a detailed evaluation of the selected effects​ theory and dispositional theories, the author argues that a synthesis is best suited (...)
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  45. Functions and Health: Towards a Praxis-Oriented Concept of Health.Lennart Nordenfelt - 2018 - Biological Theory 13 (1):10-16.
    Contemporary philosophy of health and disease has been quite focused on the problem of determining the nature of the concepts of health and disease from a scientific point of view. Some theorists claim and argue that these concepts are value-free and descriptive in the same sense as the concepts of atoms, metal, and rain are value-free and descriptive. According to this descriptive or naturalist line of thought, the notions of health and disease are furthermore related to the idea of a (...)
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  46. Function, Dysfunction, and Normality in Biological Sciences.Etienne Roux - 2018 - Biological Theory 13 (1):17-28.
    A biological function is supposed to be performed adequately, and hence may fail to do so: this is dysfunction. This raises two questions. One is how to make explicit the way in which function can be discriminated from dysfunction without confusing dysfunction with non-function. The second question is how what is “right” and “wrong” can be legitimated by natural regulatory norms. A function can be viewed as a quality to which at least one variable with a definite set of values (...)
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  47. Bodily Parts in the Structure-Function Dialectic.Ingo Brigandt - 2017 - In Scott Lidgard & Lynn K. Nyhart (eds.), Biological Individuality: Integrating Scientific, Philosophical, and Historical Perspectives. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 249–274.
    Understanding the organization of an organism by individuating meaningful parts and accounting for organismal properties by studying the interaction of bodily parts is a central practice in many areas of biology. While structures are obvious bodily parts and structure and function have often been seen as antagonistic principles in the study of organismal organization, my tenet is that structures and functions are on a par. I articulate a notion of function (functions as activities), according to which functions are bodily parts (...)
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  48. Malfunctions and Teleology: On the Chances of Statistical Accounts of Functions.Lorenzo Casini - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 7 (2):319-335.
    The core idea of statistical accounts of biological functions is that to function normally is to provide a statistically typical contribution to some goal state of the organism. In this way, statistical accounts purport to naturalize the teleological notion of function in terms of statistical facts. Boorse’s, 542–573, 1977) original biostatistical account was criticized for failing to distinguish functions from malfunctions. Recently, many have attempted to circumvent the criticism, 519–541, 2012, Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 39, 634–647, 2014). Here, I (...)
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  49. A Persistence Enhancing Propensity Account of Ecological Function to Explain Ecosystem Evolution.Antoine C. Dussault & Frédéric Bouchard - 2017 - Synthese 194 (4).
    We argue that ecology in general and biodiversity and ecosystem function research in particular need an understanding of functions which is both ahistorical and evolutionarily grounded. A natural candidate in this context is Bigelow and Pargetter’s evolutionary forward-looking account which, like the causal role account, assigns functions to parts of integrated systems regardless of their past history, but supplements this with an evolutionary dimension that relates functions to their bearers’ ability to thrive and perpetuate themselves. While Bigelow and Pargetter’s account (...)
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  50. Against Organizational Functions.Justin Garson - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (5):1093-1103.
    Over the last 20 years, several philosophers have developed a new approach to biological functions, the organizational approach. This is not a single theory but a family of theories based on the idea that a trait token can acquire a function by virtue of the way it contributes to a complex, organized system and thereby to its own continued persistence as a token. I argue that the organizational approach faces a serious liberality objection. I examine three different ways organizational theorists (...)
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