Social Selection, Agents' Intentions, and Functional Explanation

Analyse & Kritik 24 (1):72-86 (2002)

Authors
K. Brad Wray
Aarhus University
Abstract
Jon Elster and Daniel Little have criticized social scientists for appealing to a mechanism of social selection in functional explanations of social practices. Both believe that there is no such mechanism operative in the social world. I develop and defend an account of functional explanation in which a mechanism of social selection figures centrally. In addition to developing an account of social selection, I clarify what functional hypotheses purport to claim, and re-examine the role of agents, intentions in functional explanations in an effort to show why a mechanism of social selection is indispensable to adequate functional explanations
Keywords functional explanation  social selection
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DOI 10.1515/auk-2002-0104
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