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Subcategories:History/traditions: Teleology and Function

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  1. Philosophy of Psychiatry.Jonathan Y. Tsou - forthcoming - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    Jonathan Y. Tsou examines and defends positions on central issues in philosophy of psychiatry. The positions defended assume a naturalistic and realist perspective and are framed against skeptical perspectives on biological psychiatry. Issues addressed include the reality of mental disorders; mechanistic and disease explanations of abnormal behavior; definitions of mental disorder; natural and artificial kinds in psychiatry; biological essentialism and the projectability of psychiatric categories; looping effects and the stability of mental disorders; psychiatric classification; and the validity of the DSM's (...)
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  2. Ageing and the Goal of Evolution.Justin Garson - 2021 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 43 (1):1-16.
    There is a certain metaphor that has enjoyed tremendous longevity in the evolution of ageing literature. According to this metaphor, nature has a certain goal or purpose, the perpetuation of the species, or, alternatively, the reproductive success of the individual. In relation to this goal, the individual organism has a function, job, or task, namely, to breed and, in some species, to raise its brood to maturity. On this picture, those who cannot, or can no longer, reproduce are somehow invisible (...)
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  3. Edmond Goblot’s (1858-1935) Selected Effects Theory of Function: A Reappraisal.Justin Garson - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science.
    At the beginning of the twentieth century, the French philosopher of science Edmond Goblot wrote three prescient papers on function and teleology. He advanced the remarkable thesis that functions are, as a matter of conceptual analysis, selected effects. He also argued that “selection” must be understood broadly to include both evolutionary natural selection and intelligent design. Here, I do three things. First, I give an overview of Goblot’s thought. Second, I identify his core thesis about function. Third, I argue that, (...)
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  4. Putting History Back Into Mechanisms.Justin Garson - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    Mechanisms, in the prominent biological sense of the term, are historical entities. That is, whether or not something is a mechanism for something depends on its history. Put differently, while your spontaneously-generated molecule-for-molecule double has a heart, and its heart pumps blood around its body, its heart does not have a mechanism for pumping, since it does not have the right history. My argument for this claim is that mechanisms have proper functions; proper functions are historical entities; so, mechanisms are (...)
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  5. Etiological Kinds.Muhammad Ali Khalidi - 2021 - Philosophy of Science 88 (1):1-21.
    Kinds that share historical properties are dubbed “historical kinds” or “etiological kinds,” and they have some distinctive features. I will try to characterize etiological kinds in general terms a...
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  6. Précis: The Emotional Mind: The Affective Roots of Culture and Cognition.Stephen Asma & Rami Gabriel - 2021 - Journal of Philosophy of Emotion 2 (2):1-7.
    An affective approach to culture and cognition may hold the key to uniting findings across experimental psychology and, eventually, the human sciences. Many accounts of the human mind concentrate on the brain’s computational power, yet for nearly 200 million years before humans developed a capacity to reason the emotional centers of the brain were running the show. To attain a clearer picture of the evolution of mind, we challenge the cognitivist and behaviorist paradigms in psychology by exploring how the emotional (...)
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  7. Natural Goodness Without Natural History.Parisa Moosavi - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Neo‐Aristotelian ethical naturalism purports to show that moral evaluation of human action and character is an evaluation of natural goodness—a kind of evaluation that applies to living things in virtue of their nature and based on their form of life. The standard neo‐Aristotelian view defines natural goodness by way of generic statements describing the natural history, or the ‘characteristic’ life, of a species. In this paper, I argue that this conception of natural goodness commits the neo‐Aristotelian view to a problematic (...)
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  8. The Biosemiotic Implications of 'Bacterial Wisdom'.Felipe-Andres Piedra & Donald R. Frohlich - manuscript
    Eshel Ben-Jacob’s manuscript entitled ‘Bacterial wisdom, Gödel’s theorem and creative genomic webs’ summarizes decades of work demonstrating adaptive mutagenesis in bacterial genomes. Bacterial genomes, each an essential part of a Kantian whole that is a single bacterium, are thus not independent of the environment as sensed; and a single bacterium is therefore a semiotic entity. Ben-Jacob suggests this but errs in 1) assigning autonomy to the genome, and 2) analogizing through computation without making clear whether he is doing so for (...)
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  9. When Bioscience Meets Philosophy: Major Issues in the Philosophy of Biology.Sun Kyeong Yu - 2011 - Philosophy and Reality 91:99-110.
    CONTENT 1. Misconceptions of Darwin's Theory of Evolution 2. Darwinism against Essentialism and the Concept of Species 3. Function and Biological Explanation 4. The Gene 목차 1. 다윈의 진화론에 대한 오해들 2. 본질주의에 대한 진화론의 반대와 종(Species)의 개념 3. 기능(function)과 생명과학적 설명 4. 유전자 맺음말.
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  10. Natural Teleology.David J. Buller - 1999 - In Function, Selection, and Design. Albany, NY, USA: pp. 1-27.
    This paper is the introduction to Function, Selection, and Design, consisting of the following sections: 1. Introduction 2. The Philosophical Problem 3. Recent Prehistory: The "State of the Art" in the 1960s 4. Wright and Cummins 5. Millikan 6. The Core Consensus and the Peripheral Disagreements 7. Unconclusion.
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  11. The Function of Pain.Laurenz C. Casser - 2020 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (2):364-378.
    Various prominent theories of pain assume that it is pain’s biological function to inform organisms about damage to their bodies. I argue that this is a mistake. First, there is no biological evidence to support the notion that pain was originally selected for its informative capacities, nor that it currently contributes to the fitness of organisms in this specific capacity. Second, neurological evidence indicates that modulating mechanisms in the nociceptive system systematically prevent pain from serving a primarily informative role. These (...)
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  12. Collectivized Intellectualism.Julia Jael Smith & Benjamin Wald - 2019 - Res Philosophica 96 (2):199-227.
    We argue that the evolutionary function of reasoning is to allow us to secure more accurate beliefs and more effective intentions through collective deliberation. This sets our view apart both from traditional intellectualist accounts, which take the evolutionary function to be individual deliberation, and from interactionist accounts such as the one proposed by Mercier and Sperber, which agrees that the function of reasoning is collective but holds that it aims to disseminate, rather than come up with, accurate beliefs. We argue (...)
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  13. Teleology in Jewish Philosophy: Early Talmudists Till Spinoza.Yitzhak Melamed - 2020 - In Jeffrey McDonough (ed.), Teleology: A History. New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 123-149.
    Medieval and early modern Jewish philosophers developed their thinking in conversation with various bodies of literature. The influence of ancient Greek – primarily Aristotle (and pseudo-Aristotle) – and Arabic sources was fundamental for the very constitution of medieval Jewish philosophical discourse. Toward the late Middle Ages Jewish philosophers also established a critical dialogue with Christian scholastics. Next to these philosophical corpora, Jewish philosophers drew significantly upon Rabbinic sources (Talmud and the numerous Midrashim) and the Hebrew Bible. In order to clarify (...)
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  14. Cuvierian Functionalism.Aaron Novick - 2019 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 11.
    This paper makes the case that evolutionary-developmental biology, in explaining the deep conservation of animal body plans, relies on a Cuvierian functionalist explanatory strategy. Philosophical analysis commonly treats evo-devo as a “typological” research program, in contrast to the population thinking that undergirds population-genetic approaches to evolutionary theorizing. The central aim of this paper is to show that many of the features that have led evo-devo to be treated as typological are in fact the product of its Cuvierian functionalism. To achieve (...)
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  15. On the Meaning of Biological Contingencies for Human Lives.Eric Desjardins - 2019 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 11.
    Turning Points by Kostas Kampourakis offers a view of human life that is opposed to teleological reasoning, or more precisely to the tendency to infer design and grounds for faith while observing and explaining human life. While this common theme in the history of philosophy of science has mostly been related to Natural Theology, Kampourakis’s arguments against the “design stance” go beyond the idea that the appearance of design implies the existence of an intelligent Being responsible for the presence of (...)
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  16. A Unifying Theory of Biological Function.J. Hateren - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (2):112-126.
    A new theory that naturalizes biological function is explained and compared with earlier etiological and causal role theories. Etiological theories explain functions from how they are caused over their evolutionary history. Causal role theories analyze how functional mechanisms serve the current capacities of their containing system. The new proposal unifies the key notions of both kinds of theories, but goes beyond them by explaining how functions in an organism can exist as factors with autonomous causal efficacy. The goal-directedness and normativity (...)
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  17. Neo-Aristotelian Naturalism and the Evolutionary Objection: Rethinking the Relevance of Empirical Science.Parisa Moosavi - 2018 - In John Hacker-Wright (ed.), Philippa Foot on Goodness and Virtue. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 277-307.
    Neo-Aristotelian metaethical naturalism is a modern attempt at naturalizing ethics using ideas from Aristotle’s teleological metaphysics. Proponents of this view argue that moral virtue in human beings is an instance of natural goodness, a kind of goodness supposedly also found in the realm of non-human living things. Many critics question whether neo-Aristotelian naturalism is tenable in light of modern evolutionary biology. Two influential lines of objection have appealed to an evolutionary understanding of human nature and natural teleology to argue against (...)
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  18. Functional Ecology's Non-Selectionist Understanding of Function.Antoine C. Dussault - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 70:1-9.
    This paper reinforces the current consensus against the applicability of the selected effect theory of function in ecology. It does so by presenting an argument which, in contrast with the usual argument invoked in support of this consensus, is not based on claims about whether ecosystems are customary units of natural selection. Instead, the argument developed here is based on observations about the use of the function concept in functional ecology, and more specifically, research into the relationship between biodiversity and (...)
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  19. There Are No Ahistorical Theories of Function.Justin Garson - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (5):1146-1156.
    Theories of function are conventionally divided up into historical and ahistorical ones. Proponents of ahistorical theories often cite the ahistoricity of their accounts as a major virtue. Here, I argue that none of the mainstream “ahistorical” accounts are actually ahistorical. All of them embed, implicitly or explicitly, an appeal to history. In Boorse’s goal-contribution account, history is latent in the idea of statistical-typicality. In the propensity theory, history is implicit in the idea of a species’ natural habitat. In the causal (...)
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  20. What Biological Functions Are and Why They Matter.Justin Garson - 2019 - Cambridge University Press.
    The biological functions debate is a perennial topic in the philosophy of science. In the first full-length account of the nature and importance of biological functions for many years, Justin Garson presents an innovative new theory, the 'generalized selected effects theory of function', which seamlessly integrates evolutionary and developmental perspectives on biological functions. He develops the implications of the theory for contemporary debates in the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of medicine and psychiatry, the philosophy of biology, and biology itself, (...)
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  21. Gender as a Historical Kind: A Tale of Two Genders?Marion Godman - 2018 - Biology and Philosophy 33 (3-4):21.
    Is there anything that members of each binary category of gender have in common? Even many non-essentialists find the lack of unity within a gender worrying as it undermines the basis for a common political agenda for women. One promising proposal for achieving unity is by means of a shared historical lineage of cultural reproduction with past binary models of gender. I demonstrate how such an account is likely to take on board different binary and also non-binary systems of gender. (...)
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  22. Note on the Individuation of Biological Traits.Mihnea D. I. Capraru - 2018 - Journal of Philosophy 115 (4):215-221.
    Bence Nanay has argued that we must abandon the etiological theory of teleological function because this theory explains functions and functional categories in a circular manner. Paul Griffiths argued earlier that we should retain the etiological theory and instead prevent the circularity by making etiologies independent of functional categories. Karen Neander and Alex Rosenberg reply to Nanay similarly, and argue that we should analyze functions in terms of natural selection acting not on functional categories, but merely on lineages. Nanay replies (...)
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  23. Philosophical Accounts of Biological Functions. [REVIEW]Maël Montévil - 2017 - Science & Education 26 (7-9):1071-1073.
    The book A critical overview of biological functions is a short monograph by J. Garson, which provides a survey of the views on biological functions in the analytic tradition of philosophy. The notion of function is ubiquitous in biology and all of its subfields. Behind the notion of biological functions lurks the shadow of final causes. Overcoming this shadow is a challenge that has stimulated many philosophers and the literature on this topic is very rich. In the analytic tradition, researchers (...)
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  24. Learning and Selection Processes.Marc Artiga - 2010 - Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 25 (2):197-209.
    In this paper I defend a teleological explanation of normativity, i. e., I argue that what an organism is supposed to do is determined by its etiological function. In particular, I present a teleological account of the normativity that arises in learning processes, and I defend it from some objections.
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  25. Moral Physiology and Vivisection of the Soul: Why Does Nietzsche Criticize the Life Sciences?Ian D. Dunkle - 2018 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 61 (1):62-81.
    Recent scholarship has shown Nietzsche to offer an original and insightful moral psychology centering on a motivational feature he calls ‘will to power.’ In many places, though, Nietzsche presents will to power differently, as the ‘essence of life,’ an account of ‘organic function,’ even offering it as a correction to physiologists. This paper clarifies the scope and purpose of will to power by identifying the historical physiological view at which Nietzsche directs his criticisms and by identifying his purpose in doing (...)
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  26. Aristotle on “Nature Does Nothing in Vain”.Paula Gottlieb & Elliott Sober - 2017 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 7 (2):246-271.
    Aristotle’s principle that “nature does nothing in vain” (NDNIV) is central to his teleological approach to understanding organisms. First, we argue that James G. Lennox’s influential account of NDNIV is unsuccessful. Second, we propose an alternative account that includes a natural state model. According to a natural state model of development, an organism will develop toward its natural state unless interfering forces prevent that from happening. Third, we argue that this account also fits Aristotle’s discussion in the Generation of Animals (...)
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  27. Is It Really so Easy to Model Biological Evolution in Terms of Design-Free Cumulative Selection?Peter Punin - manuscript
    Abstract: Without directly taking sides in the design/anti-design debate, this paper defends the following position: the assertion that biological evolution “is” design-free presupposes the possibility to model biological evolution in a design-free way. Certainly, there are design-free models of evolution based on cumulative selection. But “to model” is a verb denoting “modeling” as the process leading to a model. So any modeling – trivially – needs “previous human design.” Nevertheless, contrary to other scientific activities which legitimately consider models while ignoring (...)
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  28. Functional Biodiversity and the Concept of Ecological Function.Antoine C. Dussault - 2019 - In Elena Casetta, Davide Vecchi & Jorge Miguel Luz Marques da Silva (eds.), From Assessing to Conserving biodiversity: Beyond the Species Approach. Dordrecht, Pays-Bas: Springer. pp. 297-316.
    This chapter argues that the common claim that the ascription of ecological functions to organisms in functional ecology raises issues about levels of natural selection is ill-founded. This claim, I maintain, mistakenly assumes that the function concept as understood in functional ecology aligns with the selected effect theory of function advocated by many philosophers of biology (sometimes called “The Standard Line” on functions). After exploring the implications of Wilson and Sober’s defence of multilevel selection for the prospects of defending a (...)
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  29. Teleology Revisited, and Other Essays in the Philosophy and History of Science.Patrick Suppes - 1980 - Journal of Philosophy 77 (12):820-824.
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  30. Difference Making, Explanatory Relevance, and Mechanistic Models.Dingmar van Eck & Raoul Gervais - 2016 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 31 (1):125-134.
    In this paper we consider mechanistic explanations for biologic malfunctions. Drawing on Lipton’s work on difference making, we offer three reasons why one should distinguish i) mechanistic features that only make a difference to the malfunction one aims to explain, from ii) features that make a difference to both the malfunction and normal functioning. Recognition of the distinction is important for a) repair purposes, b) mechanism discovery, and c) understanding. This analysis extends current mechanistic thinking, which fails to appreciate the (...)
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  31. Aristotelian Essentialism: Essence in the Age of Evolution.Christopher Austin - 2017 - Synthese 194 (7):2539-2556.
    The advent of contemporary evolutionary theory ushered in the eventual decline of Aristotelian Essentialism (Æ) – for it is widely assumed that essence does not, and cannot have any proper place in the age of evolution. This paper argues that this assumption is a mistake: if Æ can be suitably evolved, it need not face extinction. In it, I claim that if that theory’s fundamental ontology consists of dispositional properties, and if its characteristic metaphysical machinery is interpreted within the framework (...)
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  32. Beyond Darwinism’s Eclipse: Functional Evolution, Biochemical Recapitulation and Spencerian Emergence in the 1920s and 1930s.Rony Armon - 2010 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 41 (1):173-194.
    During the 1920s and 1930s, many biologists questioned the viability of Darwin’s theory as a mechanism of evolutionary change. In the early 1940s, and only after a number of alternatives were suggested, Darwinists succeeded to establish natural selection and gene mutation as the main evolutionary mechanisms. While that move, today known as the neo-Darwinian synthesis, is taken as signalling a triumph of evolutionary theory, certain critical problems in evolution—in particular the evolution of animal function—could not be addressed with this approach. (...)
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  33. Gaia and the Anthropocene; or, The Return of Teleology.D. Bondi - 2015 - Télos 2015 (172):125-137.
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  34. Mental Acts and Mechanistic Psychology in Descartes' Passions.Gary Hatfield - 2008 - In Neil Robertson, Gordon McOuat & Tom Vinci (eds.), Descartes and the Modern. Cambridge Scholars Press. pp. 49-71.
    This chapter examines the mechanistic psychology of Descartes in the _Passions_, while also drawing on the _Treatise on Man_. It develops the idea of a Cartesian “psychology” that relies on purely bodily mechanisms by showing that he explained some behaviorally appropriate responses through bodily mechanisms alone and that he envisioned the tailoring of such responses to environmental circumstances through a purely corporeal “memory.” An animal’s adjustment of behavior as caused by recurring patterns of sensory stimulation falls under the notion of (...)
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  35. Causality, Teleology, and Thought Experiments in Biology.Marco Buzzoni - 2015 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 46 (2):279-299.
    Thought experiments de facto play many different roles in biology: economical, ethical, technical and so forth. This paper, however, is interested in whether there are any distinctive features of biological TEs as such. The question may be settled in the affirmative because TEs in biology have a function that is intimately connected with the epistemological and methodological status of biology. Peculiar to TEs in biology is the fact that the reflexive, typically human concept of finality may be profitably employed to (...)
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  36. Reflections on Jacques Monod's "Chance and Necessity".Bernard Strauss & Erica Aronson - 1972 - Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 15 (4):622-629.
  37. Contemporary Philosophical Naturalism and its Implications.Bana Bashour & Hans D. Muller (eds.) - 2013 - Routledge.
    One of the most pervasive and persistent questions in philosophy is the relationship between the natural sciences and traditional philosophical categories such as metaphysics, epistemology and the mind. _Contemporary Philosophical Naturalism and Its Implications _is a unique and valuable contribution to the literature on this issue. It brings together a remarkable collection of highly regarded experts in the field along with some young theorists providing a fresh perspective. This book is noteworthy for bringing together committed philosophical naturalists, thus diverging from (...)
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  38. Normative Characterization in Biological and Cognitive Explanations.Mark Bauer - 2015 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 30 (2):271-286.
    Normative characterization is a commonplace feature of biological and cognitive explanation. Such language seems to commit the biological and cognitive sciences to the existence of natural norms, but it is also difficult to understand how such normativity fits into a natural world of physical causes and forces. I propose to map normativity onto systems stabilized by counteractive constraints. Such a mapping, I believe, can explain normativity’s causal-explanatory role in biological and cognitive inquiry. The common approach in the literature is to (...)
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  39. Xenotransplantation Exposes the Etiology of Azoospermia Factor Induced Male Sterility.Justinn Barr, Daniel Gordon, Paul Schedl & Girish Deshpande - 2015 - Bioessays 37 (3):278-283.
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  40. Satisfaction Conditions in Anticipatory Mechanisms.Marcin Miłkowski - 2015 - Biology and Philosophy 30 (5):709-728.
    The purpose of this paper is to present a general mechanistic framework for analyzing causal representational claims, and offer a way to distinguish genuinely representational explanations from those that invoke representations for honorific purposes. It is usually agreed that rats are capable of navigation because they maintain a cognitive map of their environment. Exactly how and why their neural states give rise to mental representations is a matter of an ongoing debate. I will show that anticipatory mechanisms involved in rats’ (...)
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  41. Kant’s Theory of Biology and the Argument From Design.Ina Goy - 2014 - In Eric Watkins & Ina Goy (eds.), Kant's Theory of Biology. De Gruyter. pp. 203-220.
    In this paper, I treat the question of whether and in what regard Kant's theory of biology contains a version of the argument from design, which is the question of whether Kant considers the purposive order of organized nature as a physicotheological proof for the existence of God, and in turn, the existence of God as the supersensible ground for the teleological order of organized nature. As an introduction to the topic, I name traditional examples of the argument from design (...)
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  42. Peter Godfrey-Smith, Complexity and the Function of Mind in Nature. [REVIEW]Paul Raymont - 1997 - Philosophy in Review 17 (1):35-38.
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  43. Making Sense of Life: Explaining Biological Development with Models, Metaphors, and Machines.Evelyn Fox Keller - 2002 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  44. Principles of Self-Generation and Self-Maintenance.U. An Der Heiden, G. Roth & H. Schwegler - 1985 - Acta Biotheoretica 34 (2-4):125-137.
    Living systems are characterized as self-generating and self-maintaining systems. This type of characterization allows integration of a wide variety of detailed knowledge in biology.The paper clarifies general notions such as processes, systems, and interactions. Basic properties of self-generating systems, i.e. systems which produce their own parts and hence themselves, are discussed and exemplified. This makes possible a clear distinction between living beings and ordinary machines. Stronger conditions are summarized under the concept of self-maintenance as an almost unique character of living (...)
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  45. Teleological Underdetermination, Mark Okrent.Goodness Supervenience - 1991 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 69 (1).
  46. Millikan and China.W. Zhang - 1996 - Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science 179:439-446.
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  47. Representation in Biological Systems: Teleofunction, Etiology, and Structural Preservation.Michael Nair-Collins - 2013 - In Liz Swan (ed.), Origins of Mind. pp. 161--185.
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  48. Irreducible Complexity and Darwinian Gradualism: A Reply to Michael J. Behe.Paul Draper - 2002 - Faith and Philosophy 19 (1):3-21.
    In Darwin’s Black Box, Michael J. Behe argues that, because certain biochemical systems are both irreducibly complex and very complex, it is extremely unlikely that they evolved gradually by Darwinian mechanisms, and so extremely likely that they were intelligently designed. I begin this paper by explaining Behe’s argument and defending it against the very common but clearly mistaken charge that it is just a rehash of William Paley’s design argument. Then I critically discuss a number of more serious objections to (...)
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  49. The Teleological Theory of Representation.David Papineau - unknown
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  50. Causal Theories and Unusual Causal Pathways.Berent Enç - 1989 - Philosophical Studies 55 (3):231 - 261.
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