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  1. Capabilities.Eric Merrell, David Limbaugh, Peter Koch & Barry Smith - manuscript
    We propose a definition of capability as a class intermediate between function and disposition as the latter are defined in Basic Formal Ontology (BFO). A disposition inheres in a material entity and is realized in a certain kind of process. An example is the disposition of a glass to break when struck, which is realized when it shatters. A function is a disposition which is (simply put) the rationale for the existence of its bearer. To say for example that a (...)
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  2. Proper Functionalism and the Organizational Theory of Functions.Peter J. Graham - forthcoming - In Luis R. G. Oliveira (ed.), Externalism about Knowledge. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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  3. Bodies, Functions, and Imperfections.Sherri Irvin - forthcoming - In Peter Cheyne (ed.), Perfection and Imperfection in Art and Everyday Life. Routledge.
    The culturally pervasive tendency to identify aspects of the body as aesthetically imperfect harms individuals and scaffolds injustice related to disability, race, gender, LGBTQ+ identities, and fatness. But abandoning the notion of imperfection may not respect people’s reasonable understandings of their own bodies. I examine the prospects for a practice of aesthetic assessment grounded in a notion of the body’s function. I argue that functional aesthetic assessment, to be respectful, requires understanding the body’s functions as complex, malleable, and determined by (...)
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  4. Inconsistency Between the Circulatory and the Brain Criteria of Death in the Uniform Determination of Death Act.Alberto Molina-Pérez, James L. Bernat & Anne Dalle-Ave - forthcoming - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy.
    Since 1968, a brain-based criterion of death has been adopted in medical practice and passed into law or national guidelines in most countries worldwide. In some countries, such as Australia, Spain, and the United States, death can be determined by either the circulatory and respiratory criterion or by the neurological criterion. This practice corresponds to recommendations by the World Health Organization and the World Medical Association. In the USA, the Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA) provides that “an individual who (...)
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  5. Biomedical Ontologies.Barry Smith - forthcoming - In Peter Elkin (ed.), Terminology, Ontology and their Implementations. Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
    We begin at the beginning, with an outline of Aristotle’s views on ontology and with a discussion of the influence of these views on Linnaeus. We move from there to consider the data standardization initiatives launched in the 19th century, and then turn to investigate how the idea of computational ontologies developed in the AI and knowledge representation communities in the closing decades of the 20th century. We show how aspects of this idea, particularly those relating to the use of (...)
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  6. Life Processes as Proto-Narratives: Integrating Theoretical Biology and Biosemiotics Through Biohermeneutics.Arran Gare - 2022 - Cosmos and History : The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy 18 (1):210-251.
    The theoretical biology movement originating in Britain in the early 1930’s and the biosemiotics movement which took off in Europe in the 1980’s have much in common. They are both committed to replacing the neo-Darwinian synthesis, and they have both invoked theories of signs to this end. Yet, while there has been some mutual appreciation and influence, particularly in the cases of Howard Pattee, René Thom, Kalevi Kull, Anton Markoš and Stuart Kauffman, for the most part, these movements have developed (...)
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  7. Brain Death Debates: From Bioethics to Philosophy of Science.Alberto Molina-Pérez - 2022 - F1000Research 11:195.
    50 years after its introduction, brain death remains controversial among scholars. The debates focus on one question: is brain death a good criterion for determining death? This question has been answered from various perspectives: medical, metaphysical, ethical, and legal or political. Most authors either defend the criterion as it is, propose some minor or major revisions, or advocate abandoning it and finding better solutions to the problems that brain death was intended to solve when it was introduced. Here I plead (...)
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  8. Darwinian Functional Biology.Ginnobili Santiago - 2022 - Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 37 (2):233-255.
    Abstract One of the most important things that the Darwinian revolution affected is the previous teleological thinking. In particular, the attribution of functions to various entities of the natural world with explanatory pretensions. In this change, his theory of natural selection played an important role. We all agree on that, but the diversity and heterogeneity of the answers that try to explain what Darwin did exactly with functional biology are overwhelming. In this paper I will try to show how Darwin (...)
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  9. An Externalist Teleology.Gunnar Babcock & Daniel W. McShea - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):8755-8780.
    Teleology has a complicated history in the biological sciences. Some have argued that Darwin’s theory has allowed biology to purge itself of teleological explanations. Others have been content to retain teleology and to treat it as metaphorical, or have sought to replace it with less problematic notions like teleonomy. And still others have tried to naturalize it in a way that distances it from the vitalism of the nineteenth century, focusing on the role that function plays in teleological explanation. No (...)
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  10. Mechanism, Autonomy and Biological Explanation.Leonardo Bich & William Bechtel - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (6):1-27.
    The new mechanists and the autonomy approach both aim to account for how biological phenomena are explained. One identifies appeals to how components of a mechanism are organized so that their activities produce a phenomenon. The other directs attention towards the whole organism and focuses on how it achieves self-maintenance. This paper discusses challenges each confronts and how each could benefit from collaboration with the other: the new mechanistic framework can gain by taking into account what happens outside individual mechanisms, (...)
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  11. A Functional Naturalism.Anthony Nguyen - 2021 - Synthese 198 (1):295-313.
    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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  12. The Function of Assertion and Social Norms.Peter Graham - 2020 - In Sanford Goldberg (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Assertion. New York, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 727-748.
    A proper function of an entity is a beneficial effect that helps explain the persistence of the entity. Proper functions thereby arise through feedback mechanisms with beneficial effects as inputs and persistence as outputs. We continue to make assertions because they benefit speakers by benefiting speakers. Hearers benefit from true information. Speakers benefit by influencing hearer belief. If hearers do not benefit, they will not form beliefs in response to assertions. Speakers can then only maintain influence by providing true information, (...)
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  13. Artificial Life and ‘Nature’s Purposes’: The Question of Behavioral Autonomy.Elena Popa - 2020 - Human Affairs 30 (4):587-596.
    This paper investigates the concept of behavioral autonomy in Artificial Life by drawing a parallel to the use of teleological notions in the study of biological life. Contrary to one of the leading assumptions in Artificial Life research, I argue that there is a significant difference in how autonomous behavior is understood in artificial and biological life forms: the former is underlain by human goals in a way that the latter is not. While behavioral traits can be explained in relation (...)
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  14. From Paradigm-Based Explanation to Pragmatic Genealogy.Matthieu Queloz - 2020 - Mind 129 (515):683-714.
    Why would philosophers interested in the points or functions of our conceptual practices bother with genealogical explanations if they can focus directly on paradigmatic examples of the practices we now have?? To answer this question, I compare the method of pragmatic genealogy advocated by Edward Craig, Bernard Williams, and Miranda Fricker—a method whose singular combination of fictionalising and historicising has met with suspicion—with the simpler method of paradigm-based explanation. Fricker herself has recently moved towards paradigm-based explanation, arguing that it is (...)
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  15. Ontologies for Space and Ground Systems.Barry Smith - 2020 - In Ground System Architectures Workshop. Los Angeles, CA: GSAW. pp. 1-3.
    We will survey a range of ontologies relevant to space and ground system domains. The ontologies form part of the Common Core Ontology ecosystem (CCO) developed under the IARPA KDD initiative. We focus specifically on the Space Domain Ontologies, a suite of ontologies to support space situational awareness, including the Spacecraft Mission Ontology, Spacecraft Ontology, Space Event Ontology and Space Object Ontology.
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  16. Internal Perspectivalism: The Solution to Generality Problems About Proper Function and Natural Norms.Jason Winning - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (33):1-22.
    In this paper, I argue that what counts as the proper function of a trait is a matter of the de facto perspective that the biological system, itself, possesses on what counts as proper functioning for that trait. Unlike non-perspectival accounts, internal perspectivalism does not succumb to generality problems. But unlike external perspectivalism, internal perspectivalism can provide a fully naturalistic, mind-independent grounding of proper function and natural norms. The attribution of perspectives to biological systems is intended to be neither metaphorical (...)
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  17. An Organisational Approach to Biological Communication.Ramiro Frick, Leonardo Bich & Alvaro Moreno - 2019 - Acta Biotheoretica (2):103-128.
    This paper aims to provide a philosophical and theoretical account of biological communication grounded in the notion of organisation. The organisational approach characterises living systems as organised in such a way that they are capable to self-produce and self-maintain while in constant interaction with the environment. To apply this theoretical framework to the study of biological communication, we focus on a specific approach, based on the notion of influence, according to which communication takes place when a signal emitted by a (...)
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  18. Do Constancy Mechanisms Save Distal Content?Justin Garson - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (275):409-417.
    In this journal, Schulte develops a novel solution to the problem of distal content: by virtue of what is a mental representation about a distal object rather than a more proximal cause of that representation? Schulte maintains that in order for a representation to have a distal content, it must be produced by a constancy mechanism, along with two other conditions. I raise three objections to his solution. First, a core component of Schulte's solution is just a restrictive version of (...)
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  19. Teleosemantics, Selection and Novel Contents.Justin Garson & David Papineau - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (3):36.
    Mainstream teleosemantics is the view that mental representation should be understood in terms of biological functions, which, in turn, should be understood in terms of selection processes. One of the traditional criticisms of teleosemantics is the problem of novel contents: how can teleosemantics explain our ability to represent properties that are evolutionarily novel? In response, some have argued that by generalizing the notion of a selection process to include phenomena such as operant conditioning, and the neural selection that underlies it, (...)
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  20. Functional Diversity: An Epistemic Roadmap.Christophe Malaterre, Antoine C. Dussault, Sophia Rousseau-Mermans, Gillian Barker, Beatrix E. Beisner, Frédéric Bouchard, Eric Desjardins, Tanya I. Handa, Steven W. Kembel, Geneviève Lajoie, Virginie Maris, Alison D. Munson, Jay Odenbaugh, Timothée Poisot, B. Jesse Shapiro & Curtis A. Suttle - 2019 - BioScience 10 (69):800-811.
    Functional diversity holds the promise of understanding ecosystems in ways unattainable by taxonomic diversity studies. Underlying this promise is the intuition that investigating the diversity of what organisms actually do—i.e. their functional traits—within ecosystems will generate more reliable insights into the ways these ecosystems behave, compared to considering only species diversity. But this promise also rests on several conceptual and methodological—i.e. epistemic—assumptions that cut across various theories and domains of ecology. These assumptions should be clearly addressed, notably for the sake (...)
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  21. Possibility Spaces and the Notion of Novelty: From Music to Biology.Maël Montévil - 2019 - Synthese 196 (11):4555-4581.
    We provide a new perspective on the relation between the space of description of an object and the appearance of novelties. One of the aims of this perspective is to facilitate the interaction between mathematics and historical sciences. The definition of novelties is paradoxical: if one can define in advance the possibles, then they are not genuinely new. By analyzing the situation in set theory, we show that defining generic (i.e., shared) and specific (i.e., individual) properties of elements of a (...)
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  22. On Ordered Pluralism.Matthieu Queloz - 2019 - Australasian Philosophical Review 3 (3):305-11.
    This paper examines Miranda Fricker’s method of paradigm-based explanation and in particular its promise of yielding an ordered pluralism. Fricker’s starting point is a schism between two conceptions of forgiveness, Moral Justice Forgiveness and Gifted Forgiveness. In the light of a hypothesis about the basic point of forgiveness, she reveals the unity underlying the initially baffling plurality and brings order into it, presenting a paradigmatic form of forgiveness as explanatorily basic and other forms as derivative. The resulting picture, she claims, (...)
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  23. Integrative Pluralism for Biological Function.Beckett Sterner & Samuel Cusimano - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (6):1-21.
    We introduce a new type of pluralism about biological function that, in contrast to existing, demonstrates a practical integration among the term’s different meanings. In particular, we show how to generalize Sandra Mitchell’s notion of integrative pluralism to circumstances where multiple epistemic tools of the same type are jointly necessary to solve scientific problems. We argue that the multiple definitions of biological function operate jointly in this way based on how biologists explain the evolution of protein function. To clarify how (...)
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  24. Deception: A Functional Account.Marc Artiga & Cédric Paternotte - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (3):579-600.
    Deception has recently received a significant amount of attention. One of main reasons is that it lies at the intersection of various areas of research, such as the evolution of cooperation, animal communication, ethics or epistemology. This essay focuses on the biological approach to deception and argues that standard definitions put forward by most biologists and philosophers are inadequate. We provide a functional account of deception which solves the problems of extant accounts in virtue of two characteristics: deceptive states have (...)
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  25. On Affect: Function and Phenomenology.Andreas Elpidorou - 2018 - Humana Mente 11 (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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  26. 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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  27. Beyond Cognitive Myopia: A Patchwork Approach to the Concept of Neural Function.Philipp Haueis - 2018 - Synthese 195 (12):5373-5402.
    In this paper, I argue that looking at the concept of neural function through the lens of cognition alone risks cognitive myopia: it leads neuroscientists to focus only on mechanisms with cognitive functions that process behaviorally relevant information when conceptualizing “neural function”. Cognitive myopia tempts researchers to neglect neural mechanisms with noncognitive functions which do not process behaviorally relevant information but maintain and repair neural and other systems of the body. Cognitive myopia similarly affects philosophy of neuroscience because scholars overlook (...)
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  28. A Generalized Selected Effects Theory of Function.Justin Garson - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (3):523-543.
    I present and defend the generalized selected effects theory (GSE) of function. According to GSE, the function of a trait consists in the activity that contributed to its bearer’s differential reproduction, or differential retention, within a population. Unlike the traditional selected effects (SE) theory, it does not require that the functional trait helped its bearer reproduce; differential retention is enough. Although the core theory has been presented previously, I go significantly beyond those presentations by providing a new argument for GSE (...)
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  29. 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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  30. Defending a Functional Kinds Approach to Law.Jan Mihal - 2017 - Australian Journal of Legal Philosophy 42:121-144.
    In this paper, I defend the possibility that law is a functional kind by replying to objections from Leslie Green and Brian Tamanaha. I also show how Kenneth Ehrenberg’s approach to law’s functions in his latest book concedes too much to these objections. A functional kinds approach to law is possible and, for someone interested in showing the importance of law’s functions, preferable. I first explore Tamanaha’s objection and show that the possibility of functional equivalents does not pose a problem (...)
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  31. Téléologie et fonctions en biologie. Une approche non causale des explications téléofonctionnelles.Alberto Molina Pérez - 2017 - Dissertation, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
    This dissertation focuses on teleology and functions in biology. More precisely, it focuses on the scientific legitimacy of teleofunctional attributions and explanations in biology. It belongs to a multi-faceted debate that can be traced back to at least the 1970s. One aspect of the debate concerns the naturalization of functions. Most authors try to reduce, translate or explain functions and teleology in terms of efficient causes so that they find their place in the framework of the natural sciences. Our approach (...)
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  32. The Function of Morality.Nicholas Smyth - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (5):1127-1144.
    What is the function of morality? On this question, something approaching a consensus has recently emerged. Impressed by developments in evolutionary theory, many philosophers now tell us that the function of morality is to reduce social tensions, and to thereby enable a society to efficiently promote the well-being of its members. In this paper, I subject this consensus to rigorous scrutiny, arguing that the functional hypothesis in question is not well supported. In particular, I attack the supposed evidential relation between (...)
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  33. 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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  34. 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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  35. New Perspectives on Artifactual and Biological Functions.Marc Artiga - 2016 - Applied Ontology 11 (2):89-102.
    In this essay I introduce the question of artifactual functions in the context of the recent debate on the notion of function. I discuss some of the desiderata a satisfactory account should fulfill and compare them to the desiderata for a theory of biological functions. Finally, within this general framework, I briefly present the three papers included in this volume.
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  36. Duševne bolesti i rasprava o biološkim funkcijama (Eng. Mental illnesses 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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  37. 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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  38. 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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  39. Functions in Basic Formal Ontology.Andrew D. 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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  40. Review of Biological Autonomy by Alvaro Moreno and Matteo Mossio. [REVIEW]Jason Winning & William Bechtel - 2016 - Philosophy of Science 83 (3):446-452.
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  41. 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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  42. The Modal Theory of Function Is Not About Functions.Marc Artiga - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (4):580-591.
    In a series of papers, Bence Nanay has recently put forward and defended a new theory of function, which he calls the ‘Modal Theory of Function’. In this article, I critically address this theory and argue that it fails to fulfill some key desiderata that a satisfactory theory of function must comply with. As a result, I conclude that, whatever property Nanay’s notion of function refers to, it is not the property having the function that is standardly attributed in science.
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  43. Functions and Functional Explanation Revisited: Philippe Huneman : Functions: Selection and Mechanisms. Dordrecht: Springer, 2013, Viii+243pp, €106,95 HB.Stavros Ioannidis - 2014 - Metascience 24 (2):253-258.
    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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  44. Teleosemantics Without Etiology.Bence Nanay - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (5):798-810.
    The aim of teleosemantics is to give a scientifically respectable, or ‘naturalistic’ theory of mental content. In the debates surrounding the scope and merits of teleosemantics a lot has been said about the concept of indication (or carrying information). The aim of this paper is to focus on the other key concept of teleosemantics: biological function. It has been universally accepted in the teleosemantics literature that the account of biological function one should use to flesh out teleosemantics is that of (...)
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  45. Norm-Establishing and Norm-Following in Autonomous Agency.Xabier Barandiaran & Matthew Egbert - 2013 - Artificial Life 91 (2):1-24.
    Living agency is subject to a normative dimension (good-bad, adaptive-maladaptive) that is absent from other types of interaction. We review current and historical attempts to naturalize normativity from an organism-centered perspective, identifying two central problems and their solution: (1) How to define the topology of the viability space so as to include a sense of gradation that permits reversible failure, and (2) how to relate both the processes that establish norms and those that result in norm-following behavior. We present a (...)
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  46. 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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  47. 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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  48. Artifact Categorization and the Modal Theory of Artifact Function.Bence Nanay - 2013 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (3):515-526.
    Philosophers and psychologists widely hold that artifact categories – just like biological categories – are individuated by their function. But recent empirical findings in psychology question this assumption. My proposal is to suggest a way of squaring these findings with the central role function should play in individuating artifact categories. But in order to do so, we need to give up on the standard account of artifact function, according to which function is fixed by design, and replace it with a (...)
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  49. Localization and Intrinsic Function.Charles A. 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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  50. Robust Processes and Teleological Language.Jonathan Birch - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (3):299-312.
    I consider some hitherto unexplored examples of teleological language in the sciences. In explicating these examples, I aim to show (a) that such language is not the sole preserve of the biological sciences, and (b) that not all such talk is reducible to the ascription of functions. In chemistry and biochemistry, scientists explaining molecular rearrangements and protein folding talk informally of molecules rearranging “in order to” maximize stability. Evolutionary biologists, meanwhile, often speak of traits evolving “in order to” optimize some (...)
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