Philosophy and Technology 25 (4):525-541 (2012)

Sune Holm
University of Copenhagen
In this paper, I discuss the aetiological account of biological interests, developed by Varner, in the context of artefactual organisms envisioned by current research in synthetic biology. In “Sections 2–5”, I present Varner's theory and criticise it for being incapable of ascribing non-derivative interests to artefactual organisms due to their lack of a history of natural selection. In “Sections 6–7”, I develop a new alternative to Varner's account, building on the organisational theory of biological teleology and function. I argue that the organisational account of biological interest is superior to Varner's aetiological account because it can accommodate both artefactual and naturally evolved organisms, provides a non-arbitrary and practical way of determining biological interests, supports the claim that organisms have interests in a sense in which artefacts do not, and avoids the possibility of there being a conflict between what an organismic part is supposed to do and what is in the interest of the organism.
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DOI 10.1007/s13347-012-0075-6
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References found in this work BETA

Functional Analysis.Robert Cummins - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.
Knowing One’s Own Mind.Donald Davidson - 1987 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 60 (3):441-458.
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Citations of this work BETA

A Trilemma for Teleological Individualism.John Basl - 2017 - Synthese 194 (4):1027-1029.
A Functional Naturalism.Anthony Nguyen - 2021 - Synthese 198 (1):295-313.
Teleology and Biocentrism.Sune Holm - 2017 - Synthese 194 (4).

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