Applied Ontology 11 (2):103-128 (2016)

Authors
Barry Smith
State University of New York, Buffalo
Andrew Spear
Grand Valley State University
Abstract
The notion of function is indispensable to our understanding of distinctions such as that between being broken and being in working order (for artifacts) and between being diseased and being healthy (for organisms). A clear account of the ontology of functions and functioning is thus an important desideratum for any top-level ontology intended for application to domains such as engineering or medicine. The benefit of using top-level ontologies in applied ontology can only be realized when each of the categories identified and defined by a top-level ontology is integrated with the others in a coherent fashion. Basic Formal Ontology (BFO) has from the beginning included function as one of its categories, exploiting a version of the etiological account of function that is framed at a level of generality sufficient to accommodate both biological and artifactual functions. This account has been subjected to a series of criticisms and refinements. We here articulate BFO’s account of function, provide some reasons for favoring it over competing views, and defend it against objections.
Keywords Ruth Millikan  etiology  Basic Formal Ontology
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DOI 10.3233/AO-160164
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References found in this work BETA

Functional Analysis.Robert Cummins - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.
Finkish Dispositions.David K. Lewis - 1997 - Philosophical Quarterly 47 (187):143-158.

View all 33 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

The Harm of Medical Disorder as Harm in the Damage Sense.David Limbaugh - 2019 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 40 (1):1-19.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

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