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  1. 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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  • Natural Information, Factivity and Nomicity.Ben Baker - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (2):1-21.
    Biological and cognitive sciences rely heavily on the idea of information transmitted between natural events or processes. This paper critically assesses some current philosophical views of natural information and defends a view of natural information as Nomic and Factive. Dretske offered a Factive view of information, and recent work on the topic has tended to reject this aspect of his view in favor of a non-Factive, probabilistic approach. This paper argues that the reasoning behind this move to non-Factivity is flawed (...)
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  • Pre-Darwinian Evolution Before LUCA.Shiping Tang - 2020 - Biological Theory 15 (4):175-179.
    If the coming of the last universal cellular ancestor marks the crossing of the “Darwinian Threshold”, pre-LUCA evolution must have been pre-Darwinian. But how did pre-Darwinian evolution actually operate? Bringing together and extending insights from both earlier and more recent contributions, this essay advances three principal arguments regarding the pre-Darwinian evolution. First, in the pre-Darwinian epoch, survival essentially meant persistence within the prebiotic system, and it depended mostly on chemical variation and interaction. Second, selection operated upon four different properties: chemical; (...)
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  • Social-Computation-Supporting Kinds.David Strohmaier - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (7):862-877.
    Social kinds are heterogeneous. As a consequence of this diversity, some authors have sought to identify and analyse different kinds of social kinds. One distinct kind of social kinds, however, has not yet received sufficient attention. I propose that there exists a class of social-computation-supporting kinds, or SCS-kinds for short. These SCS-kinds are united by the function of enabling computations implemented by social groups. Examples of such SCS-kinds arereimbursement form,US dollar bill,chair of the board. I will analyse SCS-kinds, contrast my (...)
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  • Teleological Notions in Biology.Colin Allen - 2003 - In Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University.
    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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  • Teleosemantics and tetrachromacy.Brian Porter - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (1):1-22.
    Teleosemantics explains mental representation in terms of etiological history: a mental state’s representational contents are the result of natural selection, or some other selection process. Critics have argued that the “swampman” thought experiment poses a counterexample to teleosemantics. In several recent papers, Papineau has argued that a merely possible swampman cannot serve as a counterexample to teleosemantics, but has acknowledged that actual swampmen would pose a problem for teleosemantics. In this paper, I argue that there are real-world cases of swampman-like (...)
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  • Does Proper Function Come in Degrees?John Matthewson - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (4):1-18.
    Natural selection comes in degrees. Some biological traits are subjected to stronger selective force than others, selection on particular traits waxes and wanes over time, and some groups can only undergo an attenuated kind of selective process. This has downstream consequences for any notions that are standardly treated as binary but depend on natural selection. For instance, the proper function of a biological structure can be defined as what caused that structure to be retained by natural selection in the past. (...)
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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • The Functions of Imitative Behaviour in Humans.Harry Farmer, Anna Ciaunica & Antonia F. De C. Hamilton - 2018 - Mind and Language 33 (4):378-396.
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