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  1. 14. Real Traits, Real Functions?Colin Allen - 2002 - In Andre Ariew, Robert C. Cummins & Mark Perlman (eds.), Functions: New Essays in the Philosophy of Psychology and Biology. Oxford University Press. pp. 373.
    Discussions of the functions of biological traits generally take the notion of a trait for granted. Defining this notion is a non-trivial problem. Different approaches to function place different constraints on adequate accounts of the notion of a trait. Accounts of function based on engineering-style analyses allow trait boundaries to be a matter of human interest. Accounts of function based on natural selection have typically been taken to require trait boundaries that are objectively real. After canvassing problems raised by each (...)
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  2. The Organizational Account of Function is an Etiological Account of Function.Marc Artiga & Manolo Martínez - 2015 - Acta Biotheoretica 64 (2):105-117.
    The debate on the notion of function has been historically dominated by dispositional and etiological accounts, but recently a third contender has gained prominence: the organizational account. This original theory of function is intended to offer an alternative account based on the notion of self-maintaining system. However, there is a set of cases where organizational accounts seem to generate counterintuitive results. These cases involve cross-generational traits, that is, traits that do not contribute in any relevant way to the self-maintenance of (...)
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  3. Proper Environment and the SEP Account of Biological Function.Michael Bertrand - 2013 - Synthese 190 (9):1503-1517.
    The survival enhancing propensity (SEP) account has a crucial role to play in the analysis of proper function. However, a central feature of the account, its specification of the proper environment to which functions are relativized, is seriously underdeveloped. In this paper, I argue that existent accounts of proper environment fail because they either allow too many or too few characters to count as proper functions. While SEP accounts retain their promise, they are unworkable because of their inability to specify (...)
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  4. Duševne bolesti i rasprava o biološkim funkcijama (Eng. Mental ilness and the debate on biological functions).Zdenka Brzović - 2016 - In Snježana Prijić-Samaržija, Luca Malatesti & Elvio Baccarini (eds.), Moralni, Politički I Epistemološki Odgovori Na Društvene Devijacije (Eng. Moral, Political, and Epistemological Responses to Antisocial Deviation). Rijeka: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Rijeka. pp. 183-199.
    In this paper, I discuss the question whether objective criteria could be provided for judging something to be a mental illness. I consider the two most prominent objectivist or naturalistic accounts of mental illness, evolutionary and bio-statistical account, which offer such a criterion by relying on the notion of biological function. According to such suggestions, illness is a condition in which there is dysfunciton in some feature of an organism. In this context, I consider different accounts for ascribing functions in (...)
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  5. How to Be a Realist About Sui Generis Teleology Yet Feel at Home in the 21st Century.Rich Cameron - 2004 - The Monist 87 (1):72-95.
    The reigning orthodoxy on biological teleology assumes that teleology either must be reduced (or eliminated) or it depends on a supernatural agent. The dominant orthodox sect rejects supernaturalism and eliminitivism, and, given the poverty of competing views has been allowed to become complacent about the adequacy of favored reductivist accounts. These are beset by more serious problems than proponents acknowledge. Moreover, the assumption underlying orthodoxy is false; there is an alternative scientifically and philosophically plausible naturalistic account of teleology. We can (...)
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  6. É legítimo explicar em termos teleológicos na biologia?Ricardo Santos do Carmo, Nei Freitas Nunes-Neto & Charbel Niño El-Hani - 2012 - Revista da Biologia 9 (2):28-34.
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  7. A Plea for the Plurality of Function.Tony Cheng - 2016 - Review of Contemporary Philosophy 15:70-81.
    In this paper I defend a pluralistic approach in understanding function, both in biological and other contexts. Talks about function are ubiquitous and crucial in biology, and it might be the key to bridge the “manifest image” and the “scientific image” identified by Sellars (1962). However, analysis of function has proven to be extremely difficult. The major puzzle is to make sense of “time-reversed causality”: how can property P be the cause of its realizer R? For example, “pumping blood” is (...)
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  8. A Teleofunctional Account of Evolutionary Mismatch.Nathan Cofnas - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (4):507-525.
    When the environment in which an organism lives deviates in some essential way from that to which it is adapted, this is described as “evolutionary mismatch,” or “evolutionary novelty.” The notion of mismatch plays an important role, explicitly or implicitly, in evolution-informed cognitive psychology, clinical psychology, and medicine. The evolutionary novelty of our contemporary environment is thought to have significant implications for our health and well-being. However, scientists have generally been working without a clear definition of mismatch. This paper defines (...)
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  9. On Affect: Function and Phenomenology.Andreas Elpidorou - 2018 - Humana Mente 34:155-184.
    This paper explores the nature of emotions by considering what appear to be two differing, perhaps even conflicting, approaches to affectivity—an evolutionary functional account, on the one hand, and a phenomenological view, on the other. The paper argues for the centrality of the notion of function in both approaches, articulates key differences between them, and attempts to understand how such differences can be overcome.
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  10. How to Be a Function Pluralist.Justin Garson - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (4):1101-1122.
    I distinguish two forms of pluralism about biological functions, between-discipline pluralism and within-discipline pluralism. Between-discipline pluralism holds that different theories of function are appropriate for different subdisciplines of biology and psychology. I provide reasons for rejecting this view. Instead, I recommend within-discipline pluralism, which emphasizes the plurality of function concepts at play within any given subdiscipline of biology and psychology.
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  11. Against Organizational Functions.Justin Garson - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (5):1093-1103.
    Over the last 20 years, several philosophers have developed a new approach to biological functions, the organizational approach. This is not a single theory but a family of theories based on the idea that a trait token can acquire a function by virtue of the way it contributes to a complex, organized system and thereby to its own continued persistence as a token. I argue that the organizational approach faces a serious liberality objection. I examine three different ways organizational theorists (...)
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  12. The Functional Sense of Mechanism.Justin Garson - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (3):317-333.
    This article presents a distinct sense of ‘mechanism’, which I call the functional sense of mechanism. According to this sense, mechanisms serve functions, and this fact places substantive restrictions on the kinds of system activities ‘for which’ there can be a mechanism. On this view, there are no mechanisms for pathology; pathologies result from disrupting mechanisms for functions. Second, on this sense, natural selection is probably not a mechanism for evolution because it does not serve a function. After distinguishing this (...)
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  13. Function, Selection, and Construction in the Brain.Justin Garson - 2012 - Synthese 189 (3):451-481.
    A common misunderstanding of the selected effects theory of function is that natural selection operating over an evolutionary time scale is the only functionbestowing process in the natural world. This construal of the selected effects theory conflicts with the existence and ubiquity of neurobiological functions that are evolutionary novel, such as structures underlying reading ability. This conflict has suggested to some that, while the selected effects theory may be relevant to some areas of evolutionary biology, its relevance to neuroscience is (...)
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  14. Schizophrenia and the Dysfunctional Brain.Justin Garson - 2010 - Journal of Cognitive Science 11:215-246.
    Scientists, philosophers, and even the lay public commonly accept that schizophrenia stems from a biological or internal ‘dysfunction.’ However, this assessment is typically accompanied neither by well-defined criteria for determining that something is dysfunctional nor empirical evidence that schizophrenia satisfies those criteria. In the following, a concept of biological function is developed and applied to a neurobiological model of schizophrenia. It concludes that current evidence does not warrant the claim that schizophrenia stems from a biological dysfunction, and, in fact, that (...)
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  15. Function and Teleology.Justin Garson - 2008 - In Anya Plutynski & Sahotra Sarkar (eds.), Companion to Philosophy of Biology. Malden, MA: Blackwell. pp. 525-549.
    This is a short overview of the biological functions debate in philosophy. While it was fairly comprehensive when it was written, my short book ​A Critical Overview of Biological Functions has largely supplanted it as a definitive and up-to-date overview of the debate, both because the book takes into account new developments since then, and because the length of the book allowed me to go into substantially more detail about existing views.
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  16. Adaptación y función.Santiago Ginnobili - 2009 - Ludus Vitalis (31):3-24.
    The scientific revolution of the XVII siècle is normally described as erasing final causes and the teleology of physics. Nevertheless, the functional language plays a central role in certain areas of biological practice. This is why many philosophers have tried to explicate the concept of function, sometimes to defend the relevance of its use, some other times to show that it is merely a way of speaking that could be easily eliminated without any relevant information loss. The principal purpose of (...)
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  17. Adaptación y función - El papel de los conceptos funcionales en la teoría de la selección natural darwiniana.Santiago Ginnobili - 2009 - Ludus Vitalis 17 (31):3-24.
    La discusión acerca de funciones es de larga data en filosofía. Normalmente se describe a la revolución científica del siglo XVII como eliminando las causas finales y la teleología de la física. Sin embargo, el lenguaje funcional cumple un papel central en ciertas áreas de la práctica biológica. Esto ha llevado a muchos filósofos a intentar elucidar el concepto de función, en algunos casos para defender la relevancia de estos usos, en otros para mostrar que se trata de meras formas (...)
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  18. Intelligent Design and Selective History: Two Sources of Purpose and Plan.Peter J. Graham - 2011 - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion 3:67-88.
    Alvin Plantinga argues by counterexample that no naturalistic account of functions is possible--God is then the only source for natural functions. This paper replies to Plantinga's examples and arguments. Plantinga misunderstands naturalistic accounts. Plantinga's mistakes flow from his assimilation of functional notions in general to functions from intentional design in particular.
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  19. Functions and Functional Explanation Revisited. [REVIEW]Stavros Ioannidis - 2014 - Metascience (2):1-6.
    Functions: selection and mechanisms is a collection of eleven original contributions to the philosophical debates surrounding functions. In the words of Philippe Huneman, editor of the volume, the aim of the book is to reflect “upon the metaphysics of function and the various problems that functional explanations raise” . This is accomplished by a diverse collection of chapters that focus on various aspects of the main topic. A collection such as this is certainly welcome. As Huneman notes in his introduction, (...)
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  20. Functional Anatomy: A Taxonomic Proposal.Ingvar Johansson, Barry Smith, Katherine Dormandy [nee Munn], Kathleen Elsner, Nikoloz Tsikolia & DIrk Siebert - 2005 - Acta Biotheoretica 53 (3):153-166.
    It is argued that medical science requires a classificatory system that (a) puts functions in the taxonomic center and (b) does justice ontologically to the difference between the processes which are the realizations of functions and the objects which are their bearers. We propose formulae for constructing such a system and describe some of its benefits. The arguments are general enough to be of interest to all the life sciences.
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  21. Biologische Funktionen und das Teleologieproblem.Geert Keil - 2007 - In Ludger Honnefelder & Matthias C. Schmidt (eds.), Naturalismus als Paradigma. Berlin University Press. pp. 76-85.
    Die im Beitrag behandelte Frage, ob sich die organische Natur des Menschen sowie seine Gesundheits- und Krankheitszustände naturalistisch auffassen lassen, erscheint zunächst irritierend. Ist nicht der Mensch als Säugetier ein natürliches Phänomen par excellence? Wie alle anderen Tiere kann der Mensch gesund oder krank sein, weil er einen Körper hat, dessen vielfältige biologische Funktionen störungsanfällig sind. Was sollte es hier noch zu naturalisieren geben? Integrieren sich Organismus, Gesundheit und Krankheit nicht gleichsam von selbst in ein naturwissenschaftliches Weltbild? Die zu klärende (...)
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  22. Function and Modality.Osamu Kiritani - 2011 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 32 (1):1-4.
    Naturalistic teleological accounts of mental content rely on an etiological theory of function. Nanay has raised a new objection to an etiological theory, and proposed an alternative theory of function that attributes modal force to claims about function. The aim of this paper is both to defend and to cast a new light on an etiological theory of function. I argue against Nanay’s “trait type individuation objection,” suggesting that an etiological theory also attributes modal force to claims about function. An (...)
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  23. Modality and Function: Reply to Nanay.Osamu Kiritani - 2011 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 32 (2):89-90.
    This paper replies to Nanay’s response to my recent paper. My suggestions are the following. First, “should” or “ought” does not need to be deontic. Second, etiological theories of function, like provability logic, do not need to attribute modal force to their explanans. Third, the explanans of the homological account of trait type individuation does not appeal to a trait’s etiological function, that is, what a trait should or ought to do. Finally, my reference to Cummins’s notion of function was (...)
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  24. Objetividad versus inteligibilidad de las funciones biológicas: La paradoja normativa y el autismo epistemológico de las ciencias modernas.Alberto Molina Pérez - 2006 - Ludus Vitalis 14 (26):39-67.
    Finality, design and purpose have started to be excluded from the language of the natural sciences since the XVIIth century. Darwin succeeded in excluding them from his theory of evolution appealing to a blind and mechanical natural selection. Today, the most usual definitions for the concept of biological function take for granted that functions: 1) are not dependent on a goal; 2) are not dependent on observers, but only on nature; 3) are explicable in causal terms, either with reference to (...)
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  25. A Functional Naturalism.Anthony Nguyen - 2018 - Synthese 2002.
    I provide two arguments against value-free naturalism. Both are based on considerations concerning biological teleology. Value-free naturalism is the thesis that both (1) everything is, at least in principle, under the purview of the sciences and (2) all scientific facts are purely non-evaluative. First, I advance a counterexample to any analysis on which natural selection is necessary to biological teleology. This should concern the value-free naturalist, since most value-free analyses of biological teleology appeal to natural selection. My counterexample is unique (...)
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  26. Localization and Intrinsic Function.Charles Rathkopf - 2013 - Philosophy of Science 80 (1):1-21.
    This paper describes one style of functional analysis commonly used in the neurosciences called task-bound functional analysis. The concept of function invoked by this style of analysis is distinctive in virtue of the dependence relations it bears to transient environmental properties. It is argued that task-bound functional analysis cannot explain the presence of structural properties in nervous systems. An alternative concept of neural function is introduced that draws on the theoretical neuroscience literature, and an argument is given to show that (...)
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  27. Proper Function and Recent Selection.Peter H. Schwartz - 1999 - Philosophy of Science 66 (3):210-222.
    "Modern History" versions of the etiological theory claim that in order for a trait X to have the proper function F, individuals with X must have been recently favored by natural selection for doing F (Godfrey-Smith 1994; Griffiths 1992, 1993). For many traits with prototypical proper functions, however, such recent selection may not have occurred: traits may have been maintained due to lack of variation or due to selection for other effects. I examine this flaw in Modern History accounts and (...)
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  28. Functions in Basic Formal Ontology.Andrew Spear, Werner Ceusters & Barry Smith - 2016 - Applied Ontology 11 (2):103-128.
    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 (...)
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  29. A Unifying Theory of Biological Function.J. H. van Hateren - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (2):112-126.
    A new theory that naturalizes biological function is explained and compared with earlier etiological and causal role theories. Etiological theories explain functions from how they are caused over their evolutionary history. Causal role theories analyze how functional mechanisms serve the current capacities of their containing system. The new proposal unifies the key notions of both kinds of theories, but goes beyond them by explaining how functions in an organism can exist as factors with autonomous causal efficacy. The goal-directedness and normativity (...)
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  30. How Objective Are Biological Functions?Marcel Weber - 2017 - Synthese 194 (12):4741-4755.
    John Searle has argued that functions owe their existence to the value that we put into life and survival. In this paper, I will provide a critique of Searle’s argument concerning the ontology of functions. I rely on a standard analysis of functional predicates as relating not only a biological entity, an activity that constitutes the function of this entity and a type of system but also a goal state. A functional attribution without specification of such a goal state has (...)
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  31. Behavioral Traits, the Intentional Stance, and Biological Functions.Marcel Weber - 2011 - In Kathryn Plaisance & Thomas A. C. Reydon (eds.), Philosophy of Behavioral Biology. Berlin: Springer. pp. 317-328.
    It has been claimed that the intentional stance is necessary to individuate behavioral traits. This thesis, while clearly false, points to two interesting sets of problems concerning biological explanations of behavior: The first is a general in the philosophy of science: the theory-ladenness of observation. The second problem concerns the principles of trait individuation, which is a general problem in philosophy of biology. After discussing some alternatives, I show that one way of individuating the behavioral traits of an organism is (...)
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  32. Varieties of Modules: Kinds, Levels, Origins, and Behaviors.Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther - 2001 - Journal of Experimental Zoology 291:116-129.
    This article began as a review of a conference, organized by Gerhard Schlosser, entitled “Modularity in Development and Evolution.” The conference was held at, and sponsored by, the Hanse Wissenschaftskolleg in Delmenhorst, Germany in May, 2000. The article subsequently metamorphosed into a literature and concept review as well as an analysis of the differences in current perspectives on modularity. Consequently, I refer to general aspects of the conference but do not review particular presentations. I divide modules into three kinds: structural, (...)
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