Authors
Paul Edmund Griffiths
University of Sydney
Abstract
The etiological approach to ‘proper functions’ in biology can be strengthened by relating it to Robert Cummins' general treatment of function ascription. The proper functions of a biological trait are the functions it is assigned in a Cummins-style functional explanation of the fitness of ancestors. These functions figure in selective explanations of the trait. It is also argued that some recent etiological theories include inaccurate accounts of selective explanation in biology. Finally, a generalization of the notion of selective explanation allows an analysis of the proper functions of human artifacts.
Keywords Explanation   Function   Biology   Philosophy of Science   Teleology
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/44.3.409
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References found in this work BETA

Functional Analysis.Robert Cummins - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.
Functions.Larry Wright - 1973 - Philosophical Review 82 (2):139-168.
In Defense of Proper Functions.Ruth Garrett Millikan - 1989 - Philosophy of Science 56 (June):288-302.

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Citations of this work BETA

Biological Normativity: A New Hope for Naturalism?Walter Veit - 2021 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 24 (2):291-301.
An Organizational Account of Biological Functions.Matteo Mossio, Cristian Saborido & Alvaro Moreno - 2009 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (4):813-841.
A Generalized Selected Effects Theory of Function.Justin Garson - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (3):523-543.
Evolution, Dysfunction, and Disease: A Reappraisal.Paul E. Griffiths & John Matthewson - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (2):301-327.

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