In Andre Ariew, Robert Cummins & Mark Perlman (eds.), Functions: New Essays in the Philosophy of Psychology and Biology. Oxford University Press. pp. 373 (2002)

Colin Allen
University of Pittsburgh
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 approach, I conclude with some facts that satisfactory notions of trait must respect.
Keywords function  trait  biology  explanation
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References found in this work BETA

Functional Analysis.Robert Cummins - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.

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On the Theoretical Motivation for Positing Etiological Functions.Björn Brunnander - 2011 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (3):371-390.
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Validity and Utility in Biological Traits.Sean A. Valles - 2013 - Biological Theory 8 (1):93-102.

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