Biological Function and Normativity

Philo 10 (1):17-26 (2007)
Abstract
Ruth Millikan and others adopt a normative definition of biological functions that is heavily used in areas such as Millikan’s teleosemantics, and also for emerging efforts to naturalize other areas of philosophy. I propose an experiment called the Lapse Test to determine exactly what form of normativity, if any, truly applies to biological functions. Millikan has not gone far enough in playing down as “impersonal” or “quasi” the precise mode of normativity that she attributes to biological functions. Further, her mode fails to qualify as genuine normativity at all, lacking an essential feature: some lapse of responsibility on the part of any entity or system that is charged with failing to do as it is “supposed.” Nor, as we will see, is there anything in English idioms used to describe biological functions that can provide a persuasive argument to rehabilitate Millikan’s normative definition
Keywords Philosophy and Religion
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ISBN(s) 1098-3570
DOI 10.5840/philo20071012
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Citations of this work BETA
Natural Sources of Normativity.Wayne Christensen - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (1):104-112.
Natural Sources of Normativity.Wayne Christensen - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (1):104-112.

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