Journal of Philosophy 115 (4):215-221 (2018)

Authors
Mihnea Capraru
Nazarbayev University
Abstract
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 that these lineages cannot be individuated except by reference to functional categories. Worryingly, Neander and Rosenberg themselves have previously argued persuasively that homology often depends on function. This article addresses their arguments and shows how to escape them: Regardless whether the arguments are right about long-term homological categories, they do not apply to generation-to-generation homology. The latter, moreover, is sufficient for individuating the lineages needed to explain teleological functions.
Keywords teleological functions  etiological theories of functions  homology  functional categories  circularity
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ISBN(s) 0022-362X
DOI 10.5840/jphil2018115414
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References found in this work BETA

Functional Analysis and Proper Functions.Paul E. Griffiths - 1993 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (3):409-422.
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.
A Modal Theory of Function.Bence Nanay - 2010 - Journal of Philosophy 107 (8):412-431.
15. Types of Traits: The Importance of Functional Homologues.Karen Neander - 2002 - In Andre Ariew, Robert C. Cummins & Mark Perlman (eds.), Functions: New Essays in the Philosophy of Psychology and Biology. Oxford University Press. pp. 390.

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