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  1. Fitness “Kinematics”: Biological Function, Altruism, and Organism–Environment Development.Marshall Abrams - 2009 - Biology and Philosophy 24 (4):487-504.
    It’s recently been argued that biological fitness can’t change over the course of an organism’s life as a result of organisms’ behaviors. However, some characterizations of biological function and biological altruism tacitly or explicitly assume that an effect of a trait can change an organism’s fitness. In the first part of the paper, I explain that the core idea of changing fitness can be understood in terms of conditional probabilities defined over sequences of events in an organism’s life. The result (...)
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  2. Function Statements.Peter Achinstein - 1977 - Philosophy of Science 44 (3):341-367.
    An examination of difficulties in three standard accounts of functions leads to the suggestion that sentences of the form "the function of x is to do y" are used to make a variety of different claims, all of which involve a means-end relationship and the idea of design, or use, or benefit. The analysis proposed enables us to see what is right and also wrong with accounts that analyze the meaning of function statements in terms of good consequences, goals, and (...)
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  3. A Goal-State Theory of Function Attributions.Frederick R. Adams - 1979 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 9 (3):493 - 518.
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  4. Not Quite By Accident.Frederick Adams & Berent Enc - 1988 - Dialogue 27 (02):287-.
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  5. The Biological Function Paradigm Applied to the Immunological Self-Non-Self Discrimination: Critique of Tauber's Phenomenological Analysis. [REVIEW]Wilfried Allaerts - 1999 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 30 (1):155-171.
    Biological self reference idioms in brain-centered or nervous-system-centered self determination of the consious Self reveal an interesting contrast with biological self-determination by immunological self/non-self discrimination. This contrast is both biological and epistemological. In contrast to the consciousness conscious of itself, the immunological self-determination imposes a protective mechanism against self-recognition (Coutinho et al. 1984), which adds to a largely unconscious achievement of the biological Self (Popper 1977; Medawar 1959). The latter viewpoint is in contrast with the immunological Self-determination as an essentially (...)
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  6. Teleological Notions in Biology.Colin Allen - unknown
    Teleological terms such as "function" and "design" appear frequently in the biological sciences. Examples of teleological claims include: A (biological) function of stotting by antelopes is to communicate to predators that they have been detected. Eagles' wings are (naturally) designed for soaring. Teleological notions were commonly associated with the pre-Darwinian view that the biological realm provides evidence of conscious design by a supernatural creator. Even after creationist viewpoints were rejected by most biologists there remained various grounds for concern about the (...)
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  7. 14. Real Traits, Real Functions?Colin Allen - 2002 - In Andre Ariew, Robert C. Cummins & Mark Perlman (eds.), Functions: New Essays in the Philosophy of Psychology and Biology. Oxford University Press. pp. 373.
    Discussions of the functions of biological traits generally take the notion of a trait for granted. Defining this notion is a non-trivial problem. Different approaches to function place different constraints on adequate accounts of the notion of a trait. Accounts of function based on engineering-style analyses allow trait boundaries to be a matter of human interest. Accounts of function based on natural selection have typically been taken to require trait boundaries that are objectively real. After canvassing problems raised by each (...)
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  8. Biological Function, Adaptation, and Natural Design.Colin Allen & Marc Bekoff - 1995 - Philosophy of Science 62 (4):609-622.
    Recently something close to a consensus about the best way to naturalize the notion of biological function appears to be emerging. Nonetheless, teleological notions in biology remain controversial. In this paper we provide a naturalistic analysis for the notion of natural design. Many authors assume that natural design should be assimilated directly to function. Others find the notion problematic because it suggests that evolution is a directed process. We argue that both of these views are mistaken. Our naturalistic account does (...)
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  9. Nature's Purposes: Analyses of Function and Design in Biology.Colin Allen, Marc Bekoff & George V. Lauder (eds.) - 1998 - MIT Press.
  10. Against Normal Function.R. Amundson - 2000 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 31 (1):33-53.
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  11. Function Without Purpose: The Uses of Causal Role Function in Evolutionary Biology.Ron Amundson & George V. Lauder - 1998 - In David L. Hull & Michael Ruse (eds.), Biology and Philosophy. Oxford University Press. pp. 227--57.
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  12. Function Without Purpose.Ron Amundson & George V. Lauder - 1994 - Biology and Philosophy 9 (4):443-469.
    Philosophers of evolutionary biology favor the so-called etiological concept of function according to which the function of a trait is its evolutionary purpose, defined as the effect for which that trait was favored by natural selection. We term this the selected effect (SE) analysis of function. An alternative account of function was introduced by Robert Cummins in a non-evolutionary and non-purposive context. Cummins''s account has received attention but little support from philosophers of biology. This paper will show that a similar (...)
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  13. Colin Allen, Marc Bekoff, and George Lauder, Eds., Nature's Purposes: Analysis of Function and Design in Biology Reviewed By.Kristin A. Andrews - 1999 - Philosophy in Review 19 (3):157-158.
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  14. Functions: New Essays in the Philosophy of Psychology and Biology.Andre Ariew, Robert C. Cummins & Mark Perlman (eds.) - 2002 - Oxford University Press.
  15. Anticipatory Functions, Digital-Analog Forms and Biosemiotics: Integrating the Tools to Model Information and Normativity in Autonomous Biological Agents.Argyris Arnellos, Luis Emilio Bruni, Charbel Niño El-Hani & John Collier - 2012 - Biosemiotics 5 (3):331-367.
    We argue that living systems process information such that functionality emerges in them on a continuous basis. We then provide a framework that can explain and model the normativity of biological functionality. In addition we offer an explanation of the anticipatory nature of functionality within our overall approach. We adopt a Peircean approach to Biosemiotics, and a dynamical approach to Digital-Analog relations and to the interplay between different levels of functionality in autonomous systems, taking an integrative approach. We then apply (...)
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  16. How Functional Differentiation Originated in Prebiotic Evolution.Argyris Arnellos & Álvaro Moreno - 2012 - Ludus Vitalis 20 (37):1-23.
    Even the simplest cell exhibits a high degree of functional differentiation (FD) realized through several mechanisms and devices contributing differently to its maintenance. Searching for the origin of FD, we briefly argue that the emergence of the respective organizational complexity cannot be the result of either natural selection (NS) or solely of the dynamics of simple self-maintaining (SM) systems. Accordingly, a highly gradual and cumulative process should have been necessary for the transition from either simple self-assembled or self-maintaining systems of (...)
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  17. Evolution and Two Popular Proposals for the Definition of Function.Robert Arp - 2007 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 38 (1):19-30.
    In the biological realm, a complete explanation of a trait seems to include an explanation in terms of function. It is natural to ask of some trait, "What is its function?" or "What purpose in the organism does the particular trait serve?" or "What is the goal of its activity?" There are several views concerning the appropriate definition of function for biological matters. Two popular views of function with respect to living things are Cummins' organizational account and the Griffiths/Godfrey-Smith modern (...)
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  18. New Perspectives on Artifactual and Biological Functions.Marc Artiga - 2016 - Applied Ontology 11 (2):89-102.
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  19. The Modal Theory of Function Is Not About Functions.Marc Artiga - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (4):580-591.
    In a series of papers, Bence Nanay has recently put forward and defended a new theory of function, which he calls the ‘Modal Theory of Function’. In this article, I critically address this theory and argue that it fails to fulfill some key desiderata that a satisfactory theory of function must comply with. As a result, I conclude that, whatever property Nanay’s notion of function refers to, it is not the property having the function that is standardly attributed in science.
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  20. Re-Organizing Organizational Accounts of Function.Marc Artiga - 2011 - Applied Ontology 6 (2):105-124.
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  21. The Organizational Account of Function is an Etiological Account of Function.Marc Artiga & Manolo Martínez - 2016 - Acta Biotheoretica 64 (2):105-117.
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  22. Teleological Explanations in Evolutionary Biology.Francisco J. Ayala - 1970 - Philosophy of Science 37 (1):1-15.
    The ultimate source of explanation in biology is the principle of natural selection. Natural selection means differential reproduction of genes and gene combinations. It is a mechanistic process which accounts for the existence in living organisms of end-directed structures and processes. It is argued that teleological explanations in biology are not only acceptable but indeed indispensable. There are at least three categories of biological phenomena where teleological explanations are appropriate.
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  23. Comments on Some Recent Analyses of Functional Statements in Biology.Kenneth K. Baublys - 1975 - Philosophy of Science 42 (4):469-486.
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  24. Teleological Functional Analyses and the Hierarchical Organization of Nature.William Bechtel - 1986 - In Nicholas Rescher (ed.), Current Issues in Teleology. University Press of America. pp. 26--48.
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  25. Function and Teleology.Morton Beckner - 1969 - Journal of the History of Biology 2 (1):151-164.
    The view of teleology sketched in the above remarks seems to me to offer a piece of candy to both the critics and guardians of teleology. The critics want to defend against a number of things: the importation of unverifiable theological or metaphysical doctrines into the sciences; the idea that goals somehow act in favor of their won realization; and the view that biological systems require for their study concepts and patterns of explanation unlike anything employed in the physical sciences. (...)
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  26. The Biological Way of Thought.Morton Beckner - 1959 - Berkeley: University of California Press.
  27. Where's the Good in Teleology?Mark Bedau - 1992 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52 (4):781-806.
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  28. Two Opposing Theories: On HE Wiegand's Recent Discovery of Lexicographic Functions.Henning Bergenholtz & Sven Tarp - 2003 - Hermes 31:171-196.
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  29. From Misogyny to Cult: An Etiological Reading of Genesis 3.Danijel Berković - 2009 - Kairos: Evangelical Journal of Theology 3 (2):153-170.
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  30. Organe Et Fonction Essai de Biophilosophie.Réjane Bernier & Paul Pirlot - 1977
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  31. Proper Environment and the SEP Account of Biological Function.Michael Bertrand - 2013 - Synthese 190 (9):1503-1517.
    The survival enhancing propensity (SEP) account has a crucial role to play in the analysis of proper function. However, a central feature of the account, its specification of the proper environment to which functions are relativized, is seriously underdeveloped. In this paper, I argue that existent accounts of proper environment fail because they either allow too many or too few characters to count as proper functions. While SEP accounts retain their promise, they are unworkable because of their inability to specify (...)
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  32. Science and Necessity.John Bigelow & Robert Pargetter - 1990 - Cambridge University Press.
    This book espouses an innovative theory of scientific realism in which due weight is given to mathematics and logic. The authors argue that mathematics can be understood realistically if it is seen to be the study of universals, of properties and relations, of patterns and structures, the kinds of things which can be in several places at once. Taking this kind of scientific platonism as their point of departure, they show how the theory of universals can account for probability, laws (...)
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  33. Functions.John Bigelow & Robert Pargetter - 1987 - Journal of Philosophy 84 (4):181-196.
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  34. The Biological Basis of Teleological Concepts.Harry Binswanger - 1973 - Dissertation, Columbia University
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  35. Robust Processes and Teleological Language.Jonathan Birch - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 3 (3):299-312.
    I consider some hitherto unexplored examples of teleological language in the sciences. In explicating these examples, I aim to show (a) that such language is not the sole preserve of the biological sciences, and (b) that not all such talk is reducible to the ascription of functions. In chemistry and biochemistry, scientists explaining molecular rearrangements and protein folding talk informally of molecules rearranging “in order to” maximize stability. Evolutionary biologists, meanwhile, often speak of traits evolving “in order to” optimize some (...)
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  36. Health as a Theoretical Concept.Christopher Boorse - 1977 - Philosophy of Science 44 (4):542-573.
    This paper argues that the medical conception of health as absence of disease is a value-free theoretical notion. Its main elements are biological function and statistical normality, in contrast to various other ideas prominent in the literature on health. Apart from universal environmental injuries, diseases are internal states that depress a functional ability below species-typical levels. Health as freedom from disease is then statistical normality of function, i.e., the ability to perform all typical physiological functions with at least typical efficiency. (...)
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  37. Wright on Functions.Christopher Boorse - 1976 - Philosophical Review 85 (1):70-86.
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  38. On the Ontology of Functions.Stefano Borgo, Riichiro Mizoguchi & Barry Smith - 2011 - Applied Ontology 6 (2):99-104.
    This special issue of Applied Ontology is devoted to the foundation, the comparison and the application of functional theories in all areas, with particular attention to the biological and engineering domains. It includes theoretical and technical contributions related to the description, characterization, and application of functions.
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  39. Complement: Mechanisms and Functions by Abraham G. Osler.Ernest Brahn - 1977 - Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 20 (4):611-612.
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  40. A Focus on Both Form and Function in Examining.Paul M. Brakefield - 2009 - In Manfred Laubichler & Jane Maienschein (eds.), Form and Function in Developmental Evolution. Cambridge University Press. pp. 112.
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  41. 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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  42. Cartesian Functional Analysis.Deborah J. Brown - 2012 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (1):75 - 92.
    Despite eschewing the utility of ends or purposes in natural philosophy, Descartes frequently engages in functional explanation, which many have assumed is an essentially teleological form of explanation. This article considers the consistency of Descartes's appeal to natural functions, advancing the idea that he is utilizing a non-normative, non-teleological form of functional explanation. It will be argued that Cartesian functional analysis resembles modern causal functional analysis, and yet, by emphasizing the interdependency of parts of biological systems, is able to avoid (...)
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  43. On the Theoretical Motivation for Positing Etiological Functions.Björn Brunnander - 2011 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (3):371-390.
    It is a plain fact that biology makes use of terms and expressions commonly spoken of as teleological. Biologists frequently speak of the function of biological items. They may also say that traits are 'supposed to' perform some of their effects, claim that traits are 'for' specific effects, or that organisms have particular traits 'in order to' engage in specific interactions. There is general agreement that there must be something useful about this linguistic practice but it is controversial whether it (...)
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  44. Unwearables.David Bryson - 2007 - AI and Society 22 (1):25-35.
    Form should follow function but often technical aspects of function dictate form. Form fitting and shape hugging are concepts we associate with a comfy jumper or a well cut suit or dress not with hard wearable technology. How many of the objects we buy are going to transition from worn to unworn? It is not until we have to wear something or are subjected to technology for medical reasons that we realise how uncomfortable some of it is. This paper addresses (...)
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  45. Duševne bolesti i rasprava o biološkim funkcijama (Eng. Mental ilness and the debate on biological functions).Zdenka Brzović - 2016 - In Snježana Prijić-Samaržija, Luca Malatesti & Elvio Baccarini (eds.), Moralni, Politički I Epistemološki Odgovori Na Društvene Devijacije (Eng. Moral, Political, and Epistemological Responses to Antisocial Deviation). Rijeka: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Rijeka. pp. 183-199.
    In this paper, I discuss the question whether objective criteria could be provided for judging something to be a mental illness. I consider the two most prominent objectivist or naturalistic accounts of mental illness, evolutionary and bio-statistical account, which offer such a criterion by relying on the notion of biological function. According to such suggestions, illness is a condition in which there is dysfunciton in some feature of an organism. In this context, I consider different accounts for ascribing functions in (...)
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  46. Function and Design Revisited.David J. Buller - 2002 - In Andre Ariew, Robert Cummins & Mark Perlman (eds.), Functions: New Essays in the Philosophy of Psychology and Biology. Clarendon Press.
    Several analyses of biological function — for example, those of Williams, Millikan, and Kitcher — identify an item’s function with what natural selection designed it to do. Allen and Bekoff have disagreed, claiming that natural design is a special case of biological function. I argue that Allen and Bekoff’s account of natural design is unduly restrictive and that it fails to mark a principled distinction between function and design. I distinguish two approaches to the phenomenon of natural design — the (...)
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  47. Function, Selection, and Design.David J. Buller (ed.) - 1999 - State University of New York Press.
    A complete sourcebook for philosophical discussion of the nature of function in biology.
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  48. Etiological Theories of Function: A Geographical Survey. [REVIEW]David J. Buller - 1998 - Biology and Philosophy 13 (4):505-527.
    Formulations of the essential commitment of the etiological theory of functions have varied significantly, with some individual authors' formulations even varying from one place to another. The logical geography of these various formulations is different from what is standardly assumed; for they are not stylistic variants of the same essential commitment, but stylistic variants of two non-equivalent versions of the etiological theory. I distinguish these “strong” and “weak” versions of the etiological theory (which differ with respect to the role of (...)
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  49. FueL: Representing Function Structure and Function Dependencies with a UML Profile for Function Modeling.Patryk Burek, Frank Loebe & Heinrich Herre - 2016 - Applied Ontology 11 (2):155-203.
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  50. A Contextualist Approach to Functional Localization in the Brain.Daniel C. Burnston - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (4):527-550.
    Functional localization has historically been one of the primary goals of neuroscience. There is still debate, however, about whether it is possible, and if so what kind of theories succeed at localization. I argue for a contextualist approach to localization. Most theorists assume that widespread contextual variability in function is fundamentally incompatible with functional decomposition in the brain, because contextualist accounts will fail to be generalizable and projectable. I argue that this assumption is misplaced. A properly articulated contextualism can ground (...)
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