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  1. Political Normativity and the Functional Autonomy of Politics.Carlo Burelli - 2020 - European Journal of Political Theory 21 (4):147488512091850.
    This article argues for a new interpretation of the realist claim that politics is autonomous from morality and involves specific political values. First, this article defends an original normative...
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  • Political Normativity and the Functional Autonomy of Politics.Carlo Burelli - 2020 - European Journal of Political Theory 21 (4):627-649.
    This article argues for a new interpretation of the realist claim that politics is autonomous from morality and involves specific political values. First, this article defends an original normative source: functional normativity. Second, it advocates a substantive functional standard: political institutions ought to be assessed by their capacity to select and implement collective decisions. Drawing from the ‘etiological account’ in philosophy of biology, I will argue that functions yield normative standards, which are independent from morality. For example, a ‘good heart’ (...)
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  • The Fine-Grained Metaphysics of Artifactual and Biological Functional Kinds.Massimiliano Carrara & Pieter Vermaas - 2009 - Synthese 169 (1):125-143.
    In this paper we consider the emerging position in metaphysics that artifact functions characterize real kinds of artifacts. We analyze how it can circumvent an objection by David Wiggins (Sameness and substance renewed, 2001, 87) and then argue that this position, in comparison to expert judgments, amounts to an interesting fine-grained metaphysics: taking artifact functions as (part of the) essences of artifacts leads to distinctions between principles of activity of artifacts that experts in technology have not yet made. We show, (...)
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  • A Goal-State Theory of Function Attributions.Frederick R. Adams - 1979 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 9 (3):493 - 518.
    The analysis of function-ascribing statements, such as “the function of x is y”, is proving to be a difficult matter. It is difficult because we are only beginning to see the complexity which is involved in ascribing functions. The process of discovery has been slow and tedious, with each newly constructed analysis of the meaning of functional ascriptions yielding insights into the structure of functional analysis and functional explanation. However, as each analysis is, in turn, dismantled, we seem to see (...)
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  • Neither Logical Empiricism nor Vitalism, but Organicism: What the Philosophy of Biology Was.Daniel J. Nicholson & Richard Gawne - 2015 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 37 (4):345-381.
    Philosophy of biology is often said to have emerged in the last third of the twentieth century. Prior to this time, it has been alleged that the only authors who engaged philosophically with the life sciences were either logical empiricists who sought to impose the explanatory ideals of the physical sciences onto biology, or vitalists who invoked mystical agencies in an attempt to ward off the threat of physicochemical reduction. These schools paid little attention to actual biological science, and as (...)
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  • Téléologie et fonctions en biologie. Une approche non causale des explications téléofonctionnelles.Alberto Molina Pérez - 2017 - Dissertation, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
    This dissertation focuses on teleology and functions in biology. More precisely, it focuses on the scientific legitimacy of teleofunctional attributions and explanations in biology. It belongs to a multi-faceted debate that can be traced back to at least the 1970s. One aspect of the debate concerns the naturalization of functions. Most authors try to reduce, translate or explain functions and teleology in terms of efficient causes so that they find their place in the framework of the natural sciences. Our approach (...)
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  • A Tribute to Karen Neander.Christopher Hill & Carlotta Pavese - 2021 - Biological Theory 16 (4):195-202.
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  • Edmond Goblot’s (1858–1935) Selected Effects Theory of Function: A Reappraisal.Justin Garson - 2021 - Philosophy of Science 88 (5):1210-1220.
    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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  • No Strings Attached: Functional and Intentional Action Explanations.Mark Risjord - 1999 - Philosophy of Science 66 (3):313.
    Functional explanation in the social sciences is the focal point for conflict between individualistic and social modes of explanation. While the agent thought she was acting for reasons, the functional explanation seems to reveal the hidden strings of the puppet master. This essay argues that the conflict is merely apparent. The erotetic model of explanation is used to analyze the forms of intentional action and functional explanations. Two explanations conflict if either the presuppositions of their respective why-questions conflict or the (...)
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  • 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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  • A Reply to Wright's Analysis of Functional Statements.Michael Ruse - 1973 - Philosophy of Science 40 (2):277-280.
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  • Biological Adaptation.Michael Ruse - 1972 - Philosophy of Science 39 (4):525-528.
    In successive issues of this journal Ronald Munson [2] and I [4] have made, quite independently, conflicting claims about the relationship between biological adaptation and biological function. I state, admittedly without proof, that “a functional statement in biology draws attention to the fact that what is under consideration is an adaptation or something which confers an ‘adaptive advantage’ on its possessor”. This was an identity claim. Munson claims, with proof, that “adaptation and function are not identical”. In this discussion note (...)
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  • A Comment on Ruse's Analysis of Function Statements.Larry Wright - 1972 - Philosophy of Science 39 (4):512-514.
    Michael Ruse has offered an interesting and insightful analysis of function statements in biology. The analysis he gives of statements of the form ‘The function of x in z is to do y‘ is : z does y by using x.y is an adaptation.The first thing to notice about this formulation is the peculiarity of step. There are many cases in which we would naturally say that x was the adaptation, instead of y; or perhaps we might say that everything (...)
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  • 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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  • Towards a Pluralistic Concept of Function Function Statements in Biology.Rob Pranger - 1990 - Acta Biotheoretica 38 (1):63-71.
    The meaning of function statements is not clear. Several authors have come up with different explications. By interviewing biologists I tried to get a picture of how they think about function. Two explications of Feature X of organism S has function F came to the fore: (1) X contributes to F and F contributes to survival/reproduction of S and (2) X does F and that contributes to the evolutionary development of X in S via natural selection. Most biologists also related (...)
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  • Pluralists About Pluralism? Versions of Explanatory Pluralism in Psychiatry.Jeroen Van Bouwel - 2014 - In M. C. Galavotti, D. Dieks, W. J. Gonzalez, S. Hartmann, Th Uebel & M. Weber (eds.), New Directions in Philosophy of Science (The Philosophy of Science in a European Perspective Series). Springer. pp. 105-119.
    In this contribution, I comment on Raffaella Campaner’s defense of explanatory pluralism in psychiatry (in this volume). In her paper, Campaner focuses primarily on explanatory pluralism in contrast to explanatory reductionism. Furthermore, she distinguishes between pluralists who consider pluralism to be a temporary state on the one hand and pluralists who consider it to be a persisting state on the other hand. I suggest that it would be helpful to distinguish more than those two versions of pluralism – different understandings (...)
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  • Causes, Proximate and Ultimate.Richard C. Francis - 1990 - Biology and Philosophy 5 (4):401-415.
    Within evolutionary biology a distinction is frequently made between proximate and ultimate causes. One apparently plausible interpretation of this dichotomy is that proximate causes concern processes occurring during the life of an organism while ultimate causes refer to those processes (particularly natural selection) that shaped its genome. But ultimate causes are not sought through historical investigations of an organisms lineage. Rather, explanations referring to ultimate causes typically emerge from functional analyses. But these functional analyses do not identify causes of any (...)
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  • The Function Debate in Philosophy.Arno Wouters - 2005 - Acta Biotheoretica 53 (2):123-151.
    This paper reviews the debate on the notion of biological function and on functional explanation as this takes place in philosophy. It describes the different perspectives, issues, intuitions, theories and arguments that have emerged. The author shows that the debate has been too heavily influenced by the concerns of a naturalistic philosophy of mind and argues that in order to improve our understanding of biology the attention should be shifted from the study of intuitions to the study of the actual (...)
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  • Function and Teleology.Justin Garson - 2008 - In Anya Plutynski & Sahotra Sarkar (eds.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Biology. Malden, MA: Blackwell. pp. 525-549.
    This is a short overview of the biological functions debate in philosophy. While it was fairly comprehensive when it was written, my short book ​A Critical Overview of Biological Functions has largely supplanted it as a definitive and up-to-date overview of the debate, both because the book takes into account new developments since then, and because the length of the book allowed me to go into substantially more detail about existing views.
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  • Functions and Mechanisms: A Perspectivalist View.Carl F. Craver - 2013 - In Philippe Huneman (ed.), Functions: Selection and Mechanisms. Springer. pp. 133--158.
  • An Organizational Account of Biological Functions.Matteo Mossio, Cristian Saborido & Alvaro Moreno - 2009 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (4):813-841.
    In this paper, we develop an organizational account that defines biological functions as causal relations subject to closure in living systems, interpreted as the most typical example of organizationally closed and differentiated self-maintaining systems. We argue that this account adequately grounds the teleological and normative dimensions of functions in the current organization of a system, insofar as it provides an explanation for the existence of the function bearer and, at the same time, identifies in a non-arbitrary way the norms that (...)
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  • Inference and Action: Relating Beliefs to the World.Javier Gonzalez De Prado Salas - unknown
    The goal of this dissertation is to offer a practice-based account of intentionality. My aim is to examine what sort of practices agents have to engage in so as to count as talking and thinking about the way the world is – that is, what sort of practices count as representational. Representational practices answer to the way the world is: what is correct within such practices depends on the way things are, rather than on the attitudes of agents. An account (...)
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  • Proper Activity, Preference, and the Meaning of Life.Lucas J. Mix - 2014 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 6 (20150505).
    The primary challenge for generating a useful scientific definition of life comes from competing concepts of biological activity and our failure to make them explicit in our models. I set forth a three-part scheme for characterizing definitions of life, identifying a binary , a range , and a preference . The three components together form a proper activity in biology . To be clear, I am not proposing that proper activity be adopted as the best definition of life or even (...)
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  • Environmental Ethics.Roberta L. Millstein - 2013 - In K. Kampourakis (ed.), The Philosophy of Biology: A Companion for Educators. Springer.
    A number of areas of biology raise questions about what is of value in the natural environment and how we ought to behave towards it: conservation biology, environmental science, and ecology, to name a few. Based on my experience teaching students from these and similar majors, I argue that the field of environmental ethics has much to teach these students. They come to me with pent-up questions and a feeling that more is needed to fully engage in their subjects, and (...)
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  • 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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  • Schizophrenia and the Dysfunctional Brain.Justin Garson - 2010 - Journal of Cognitive Science 11:215-246.
    Scientists, philosophers, and even the lay public commonly accept that schizophrenia stems from a biological or internal ‘dysfunction.’ However, this assessment is typically accompanied neither by well-defined criteria for determining that something is dysfunctional nor empirical evidence that schizophrenia satisfies those criteria. In the following, a concept of biological function is developed and applied to a neurobiological model of schizophrenia. It concludes that current evidence does not warrant the claim that schizophrenia stems from a biological dysfunction, and, in fact, that (...)
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  • Design Explanation: Determining the Constraints on What Can Be Alive.Arno G. Wouters - 2007 - Erkenntnis 67 (1):65-80.
    This paper is concerned with reasonings that purport to explain why certain organisms have certain traits by showing that their actual design is better than contrasting designs. Biologists call such reasonings 'functional explanations'. To avoid confusion with other uses of that phrase, I call them 'design explanations'. This paper discusses the structure of design explanations and how they contribute to scientific understanding. Design explanations are contrastive and often compare real organisms to hypothetical organisms that cannot possibly exist. They are not (...)
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  • 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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  • Selected Effects and Causal Role Functions in the Brain: The Case for an Etiological Approach to Neuroscience.Justin Garson - 2011 - Biology and Philosophy 26 (4):547-565.
    Despite the voluminous literature on biological functions produced over the last 40 years, few philosophers have studied the concept of function as it is used in neuroscience. Recently, Craver (forthcoming; also see Craver 2001) defended the causal role theory against the selected effects theory as the most appropriate theory of function for neuroscience. The following argues that though neuroscientists do study causal role functions, the scope of that theory is not as universal as claimed. Despite the strong prima facie superiority (...)
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  • Evolution, Teleology, Intentionality.Daniel C. Dennett - 1993 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 16 (2):89-391.
    No response that was not as long and intricate as the two commentaries combined could do justice to their details, so what follows will satisfy nobody, myself included. I will concentrate on one issue discussed by both commentators: the relationship between evolution and teleological (or intentional) explanation. My response, in its brevity, may have just one virtue: it will confirm some of the hunches (or should I say suspicions) that these and other writers have entertained about my views. For more (...)
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  • Comments on Dennett From a Cautious Ally.Jonathan Bennett - 1993 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 16 (2):381-385.
    In these notes, unadorned page numbers under 350 refer to Dennett (1987) - The Intentional Stance, hereafter referred to as Stance - and ones over 495 refer to Dennett (1988) - mostly to material by him but occasionally to remarks of his critics. Since the notes will focus on disagreements, I should say now that I am in Dennett’s camp and am deeply in debt to his work in the philosophy of mind, which I think is wider, deeper, more various (...)
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  • Dennett's Intentions and Darwin's Legacy.Jon Ringen - 1993 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 16 (2):386-389.
  • Four Notions of Biological Function.Arno G. Wouters - 2003 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 34 (4):633-668.
    I argue that there are at least four different ways in which the term ‘function’ is used in connection with the study of living organisms, namely: function as activity, function as biological role, function as biological advantage, and function as selected effect. Notion refers to what an item does by itself; refers to the contribution of an item or activity to a complex activity or capacity of an organism; refers to the value for the organism of an item having a (...)
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  • Four Notions of Biological Function.Arno G. Wouters - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 34 (4):633-668.
    I argue that there are at least four different ways in which the term ‘function’ is used in connection with the study of living organisms, namely: function as activity, function as biological role, function as biological advantage, and function as selected effect. Notion refers to what an item does by itself; refers to the contribution of an item or activity to a complex activity or capacity of an organism; refers to the value for the organism of an item having a (...)
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