Selected effects and causal role functions in the brain: the case for an etiological approach to neuroscience

Biology and Philosophy 26 (4):547-565 (2011)
Abstract
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 of the causal role theory, the selected effects theory (when properly developed) can handle many cases from neuroscience with equal facility. It argues this by presenting a new theory of function that generalizes the notion of a ‘selection process’ to include processes such as neural selection, antibody selection, and some forms of learning—that is, to include structures that have been differentially retained as well as those that have been differentially reproduced. This view, called the generalized selected effects theory of function, will be defended from criticism and distinguished from similar views in the literature
Keywords Function  Teleology  Selected Effects Functions  Causal Role Functions  Philosophy of Neuroscience
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DOI 10.1007/s10539-011-9262-6
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References found in this work BETA
The Nature of Selection.Elliott Sober - 1986 - Behaviorism 14 (1):77-88.

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Citations of this work BETA
Functions Must Be Performed at Appropriate Rates in Appropriate Situations.G. Piccinini & Justin Garson - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (1):1-20.
The Functional Sense of Mechanism.Justin Garson - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (3):317-333.
How to Be a Function Pluralist.Justin Garson - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axx007.
Two Types of Psychological Hedonism.Justin Garson - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 56:7-14.

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