This volume handles in various perspectives the concept of function and the nature of functional explanations, topics much discussed since two major and conflicting accounts have been raised by Larry Wright and Robert Cummins’s papers in the 1970s. Here, both Wright’s ”etiological theory of functions’ and Cummins’s ”systemic’ conception of functions are refined and elaborated in the light of current scientific practice, with papers showing how the ”etiological’ theory faces several objections and may in reply be revisited, while its counterpart (...) became ever more sophisticated, as researchers discovered fresh applications for it. Relying on a firm knowledge of the original positions and debates, this volume presents cutting-edge research evincing the complexities that today pertain in function theory in various sciences. Alongside original papers from authors central to the controversy, work by emerging researchers taking novel perspectives will add to the potential avenues to be followed in the future. Not only does the book adopt no a priori assumptions about the scope of functional explanations, it also incorporates material from several very different scientific domains, e.g. neurosciences, ecology, or technology. In general, functions are implemented in mechanisms; and functional explanations in biology have often an essential relation with natural selection. These two basic claims set the stage for this book’s coverage of investigations concerning both ”functional’ explanations, and the ”metaphysics’ of functions. It casts new light on these claims, by testing them through their confrontation with scientific developments in biology, psychology, and recent developments concerning the metaphysics of realization. Rather than debating a single theory of functions, this book presents the richness of philosophical issues raised by functional discourse throughout the various sciences. Content Level » Research Keywords » Causal role theory of functions - Determination of content - Ecosystem selection - Etiological theory of function - Evolutionary biology - Functional explanations - Historical concepts in biology - Larry Wright - Neurosciences - New mechanism - Selected effects functions - Systemic theory of functions - William Wimsatt Related subjects » Anthropology & Archaeology - Epistemology & Philosophy of Science - Evolutionary & Developmental Biology - Neuroscience - Philosophy TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction.- Section I. Biological functions and functional explanations: genes, cells, organisms and ecosystems.- Part 1.A. Functions, organization and development in life sciences.- Chapter 1. William C. Wimsatt. Evolution and the Stability of Functional Architectures.- Chapter 2. Denis M. Walsh. Teleological Emergence: The Autonomy of Evo-Devo.- Chapter 3. Jean Gayon. Does oxygen have a function, or: where should the regress of biological functions stop?.- Part 1.B. Functional pluralism for biologists? Chapter 4. Frédéric Bouchard. How ecosystem evolution strengthens the case for functional pluralism.- Chapter 5. Robert N. Brandon. A general case for functional pluralism.- Chapter 6. Philippe Huneman. Weak realism in the etiological theory of functions.- Section 2. Section II. Psychology, philosophy of mind and technology: Functions in a man’s world.- Part 2.A. 2A. Metaphysics, function and philosophy of mind.- Chapter 7. Carl Craver. Functions and Mechanisms in Contemporary Neuroscience.- Chapter 8. Carl Gillett. Understanding the sciences through the fog of ”functionalism.’.- 2.B. Philosophy of technology, design and functions.- Chapter 9. Fran¸ coise Longy. Artifacts and Organisms: A Case for a New Etiological Theory of Functions.- Chapter 10. Pieter Vermaas and Wybo Houkes. Functions as Epistemic Highlighters: An Engineering Account of Technical, Biological and Other Functions.- Epilogue.- Larry Wright. Revising teleological explanations: reflections three decades on. (shrink)
We need to distinguish two sorts of natural kinds, scientific and common NKs, because the notion of NK, which has to satisfy demands at three different levels—ontological, semantic and epistemological—, is subject to two incompatible sets of constraints. In order to prove this, I focus on the much-discussed case of jade. In the first part of the paper, I show that the current accounts are unsatisfactory because they are inconsistent. In the process, I explain why LaPorte’s analysis of “jade” as (...) a vernacular NK-term with an open-texture meaning does not offer a way out. Using a reductio ad absurdum argument, I conclude that according to the main tenets of NK-term theories, today’s “jade” has to be an NK-term, and jade thereby an NK. In the second part of the paper, I argue for this conclusion in a positive manner. First, I present a series of thought experiments demonstrating that today’s “jade” has the specific features of an NK-term. Then, I show that the kind that we presently call “jade” exhibits the typical ontological and epistemological features of an NK. More generally, I expound on why common NKs are more than mere classes, and why categories such as “jade” are useful in many inferences and explanations. (shrink)
The existence of dysfunctions precludes the possibility of identifying the function to do F with the capacity to do F. Nevertheless, we continuously infer capacities from functions. For this and other reasons stated in the first part of this article, I propose a new theory of functions (of the etiological sort), applying to organisms as well as to artefacts, in which to have some determinate probability P to do F (i.e. a probabilistic capacity to do F) is a necessary condition (...) for having the function to do F. The main objective of this paper is to justify the legitimacy of this condition when considering artefacts. I begin by distinguishing “perspectival probabilities”, which reflect a pragmatic interest or an arbitrary state of knowledge, from “objective probabilities”, which depend on some objective feature of the envisageditems. I show that objective probabilities are not necessarily based on physical constitution. I then explain why we should distinguish between considering an object as a physical body and considering it as an artefact, and why the probability of dysfunction to be taken into account is one relative to the object as member of an artefact category. After clarifying how an artefact category can be defined if it is not defined in physical terms, I establish the objectivity of the probability of dysfunction under consideration by showing how it is causally determined by objective factors regulating the production of items of a definite artefact type. Ifocus on the case of industrially produced artefacts where the objective factors determining the probability of dysfunction can be best seen. (shrink)
In this book two of the leading figures in argumentation theory present a view of argumentation as a means of resolving differences of opinion by testing the acceptability of the disputed positions. Their model of a 'critical discussion' serves as a theoretical tool for analysing, evaluating and producing argumentative discourse. They develop a method for the reconstruction of argumentative discourse that takes into account all aspects that are relevant to a critical assessment. They also propose a practical code of behaviour (...) for discussants who want to resolve their differences in a reasonable way. This is a major contribution to the study of argumentation and will be of particular value to professionals and graduate students in speech communication, informal logic, rhetoric, critical thinking, linguistics, and philosophy. (shrink)
In Waartoe Wetenschap? onderzoekt Frans W. Saris de wetenschap in evolutionair perspectief en hij bepleit een radical enlightenment in een dertiental essays en een toneeltekst waarin zulke uiteenlopende wetenschappers verschijnen als ...
Most philosophers adopt an etiological conception of functions, but not one that uniformly explains the functions attributed to material entities irrespective of whether they are natural or man-made. Here, I investigate the widespread idea that a combination of the two current etiological theories, SEL and INT, can offer a satisfactory account of the proper functions of both organisms and artifacts.. Making explicit what a realist theory of function supposes, I first show that SEL offers a realist theory of biological functions (...) in which these are objective properties of a peculiar sort. I argue next that an artifact function demonstrates the same objective nature as a biological function when it is accounted for by SEL, but not when it is accounted for by INT. I explain why a dual theory of artifact functions admitting both INT and SEL functions is to be dismissed. I establish that neither INT nor SEL alone can account for all artifact functions. Drawing the conclusion that we need a new etiological theory of function, I show how one can overcome the apparent inevitability of INT for some artifact functions. Finally, I outline a new etiological theory of functions that applies equally to biological entities and to artifacts. (shrink)
On attribue typiquement aux organes des fonctions. La fonction des yeux est de voir, celle du cœur est de faire circuler le sang, celle des reins est de filtrer le sang, et ainsi de suite. On attribue aussi des fonctions à des parties d’organe – la fonction des valves auriculo-ventriculaires est d’empêcher le sang de refluer dans les oreillettes lorsque les ventricules se contractent – ou à des traits biologiques – chez de nombreuses espèces d’oiseaux, la couleur vive du plumage (...) des mâles a p... (shrink)
The issues addressed in philosophical papers on quotation generally concern only a particular type of quotation, which I call 'closed quotation'. The other main type, 'open quotation', is ignored, and this neglect leads to bad theorizing. Not only is a general theory of quotation out of reach: the specific phenomenon of closed quotation itself cannot be properly understood if it is not appropriately situated within the kind to which it belongs. Once the distinction between open and closed quotation has been (...) drawn and properly appreciated, it is tempting to consider that only closed quotation is relevant to semantics. Open quotation is more a matter of pragmatics: it is a matter of what people do with words, rather than a matter of content and truth-conditions. In this way one can provide the beginning of a justification for the neglect of open quotation in current semantic theorizing. There is some truth in this view, yet the phenomenon of 'mixed quotation', investigated at length in this paper, is interesting precisely because it shows that things are not so simple. Important issues concerning the interface between semantics and pragmatics will thus be raised. (shrink)
The turn of the millennium has been marked by new developments in the study of early modern philosophy. In particular, the philosophy of René Descartes has been reinterpreted in a number of important and exciting ways, specifically concerning his work on the mind-body union, the connection between objective and formal reality, and his status as a moral philosopher. These fresh interpretations have coincided with a renewed interest in overlooked parts of the Cartesian corpus and a sustained focus on the similarities (...) between Descartes' thought and the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza. Mind, Body, and Moralityconsists of fifteen chapters written by scholars who have contributed significantly to the new turn in Descartes and Spinoza scholarship. The volume is divided into three parts. The first group of chapters examines different metaphysical and epistemological problems raised by the Cartesian mind-body union. Part II investigates Descartes' and Spinoza's understanding of the relations between ideas, knowledge, and reality. Special emphasis is put on Spinoza's conception of the relation between activity and passivity. Finally, the last part explores different aspects of Descartes' moral philosophy, connecting his views to important predecessors, Augustine and Abelard, and comparing them to Spinoza. nd Spinoza's understanding of the relations between ideas, knowledge, and reality. Special emphasis is put on Spinoza's conception of the relation between activity and passivity. Finally, the last part explores different aspects of Descartes' moral philosophy, connecting his views to important predecessors, Augustine and Abelard, and comparing them to Spinoza. (shrink)
What is a natural kind? This old yet lasting philosophical question has recently received new competing answers (e.g., Chakravartty, 2007; Magnus, 2014; Khalidi, 2013; Slater, 2015; Ereshefsky & Reydon, 2015). We show that the main ingredients of an encompassing and coherent account of natural kinds are actually on the table, but in need of the right articulation. It is by adopting a non-reductionist, naturalistic and non-conceptualist approach that, in this paper, we elaborate a new synthesis of all these ingredients. Our (...) resulting proposition is a multiple-compartment theory of natural kinds that defines them in purely ontological terms, clearly distinguishes and relates ontological and epistemological issues —more precisely, two grains of ontological descriptions and two grains of explanatory success of natural kinds—, and which sheds light on why natural kinds play an epistemic role both within science and in everyday life. (shrink)
Every 4 years, for the past three decades, the world of argumentation research has gathered in Amsterdam at the International Society for the Study of Argumentation conferences to explore advances in understanding argumentation and how argumentation advances our understanding of the human condition. While comprehensive proceedings of selected papers are produced to document what has transpired in the world of argumentation over the preceding 4 years, there remains the important matter of taking the intellectual pulse of the world’s argumentation scholars, (...) to detect the beating heart of the community of scholars and the health and wellness of argumentation scholarship. One of the great services Frans van Eemeren, and his colleagues, have provided this community is a diagnosis that helps identify the assets upon which the health and wellness of the community can further build. This service has come in the form of several edited volumes, the most recent of which, Topical Themes in Argumen .. (shrink)
Although there is a consensus among philosophers of mathematics and mathematicians that mathematical explanations exist, only a few authors have proposed accounts of explanation in mathematics. These accounts fit into the unificationist or top-down approach to explanation. We argue that these models can be complemented by a bottom-up approach to explanation in mathematics. We introduce the mechanistic model of explanation in science and discuss the possibility of using this model in mathematics, arguing that using it does not presuppose a Platonist (...) view of mathematics and allows one to gain insight into why a theorem is true by answering what-if-things-had-been-different questions. (shrink)
To what do "natural selection" and "genetic drift" refer? To causes, as is usually thought? Or to mere statistical effects? The question arises because assessing causes faces specific difficulties when stochastic processes are concerned. In this paper, I establish that a central anti-causalist argument from Matthen and Ariew (2002) does not work, because selection doesn't depend on chance (or unknown factors) in the manner that current analogies with games of chance suggest. I then explain how a clear understanding of how (...) chance and biases are involved in natural selection supports one form of causalism, while every other form has indeed to be rejected. (shrink)
It is often claimed that the exceptional severity of the Spanish flu, one of the most deadly events in recorded human history, is an unsolved mystery. However, even detailed aspects such as its W-shaped mortality curve are well explained by Paul Ewald’s theory of the evolution of virulence. Understanding the causes of the Spanish flu will help to prevent future epidemics.
The central notion in this article is ‘pluriform accommodation,’ a term that we have coined to defend two lines of thought. The first is a plea for inclusive and consequential neutrality; the second is a closely linked plea for reasonable accommodation. With ‘pluriform accommodation’ we emphasize that the multicultural recognition scope should be expanded. The need for inclusive and accommodative rules, laws, and practices is a matter of principle and as such cannot be reduced to the inclusion of people with (...) an immigration background who bring with them all kinds of ethnocultural and religious practices, convictions, and traditions. Furthermore, the enshrined freedom of religion does not provide the needed protection for the multiplicity of conscientious identifications, convictions, and strong allegiances that might be central to one’s sense of self. We argue that we should not engage in (top down) debates about the rights of individuals and groups of different types and think in terms of identity hierarchies, but instead should consider the various claims being made (bottom up), aiming for common standards and criteria to assess the validity of these claims and the reasonableness of the associated accommodations. (shrink)
Frans van Eemeren, Bart Garssen, & Bert Meuffels: Fallacies and Judgments of Reasonableness: Empirical Research Concerning the Pragma-Dialectical Discussion Rules Content Type Journal Article Pages 375-381 DOI 10.1007/s10503-010-9183-6 Authors Dale Hample, University of Maryland College Park MD 20742 USA Journal Argumentation Online ISSN 1572-8374 Print ISSN 0920-427X Journal Volume Volume 24 Journal Issue Volume 24, Number 3.