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14. Real Traits, Real Functions?

In Andre Ariew, Robert Cummins & Mark Perlman (eds.), Functions: New Essays in the Philosophy of Psychology and Biology. Oxford University Press. pp. 373 (2002)

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  1. Téléologie et fonctions en biologie. Une approche non causale des explications téléofonctionnelles.Alberto Molina Pérez - 2017 - Dissertation, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
    This dissertation is focused 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 (...)
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  • Explaining the Evolution of Consciousness: The Other Hard Problem.Thomas W. Polger & Owen J. Flanagan - manuscript
    Recently some philosophers interested in consciousness have begun to turn their attention to the question of what evolutionary advantages, if any, being conscious might confer on an organism. The issue has been pressed in recent dicussions involving David Chalmers, Todd Moody, Owen Flanagan and Thomas Polger, Daniel Dennett, and others. The purpose of this essay is to consider some of the problems that face anyone who wants to give an evolutionary explanation of consciousness. We begin by framing the problem in (...)
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  • Disociaciones Cognoscitivas y la Evolucionabilidad de la Mente.Claudia Lorena García - 2009 - Análisis Filosófico 29 (1):73-103.
    En las ciencias cognoscitivas, existe una teoría con respecto a la arquitectura computacional de la mente conocida como el modularismo masivo. Esta teoría sostiene que la mente está en su mayoría constituida por mecanismos que son cognoscitivamente modulares. Algunos de los defensores de esta teoría proponen un argumento cuya conclusión es que es muy probable que mecanismos que son cognoscitivamente muy modulares sean más evolucionables que aquellos mecanismos que no son cognoscitivamente modulares. Aquí muestro que para poder defender plausiblemente esta (...)
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  • On the Theoretical Motivation for Positing Etiological Functions.Björn Brunnander - 2011 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (3):371-390.
    It is a plain fact that biology makes use of terms and expressions commonly spoken of as teleological. Biologists frequently speak of the function of biological items. They may also say that traits are 'supposed to' perform some of their effects, claim that traits are 'for' specific effects, or that organisms have particular traits 'in order to' engage in specific interactions. There is general agreement that there must be something useful about this linguistic practice but it is controversial whether it (...)
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  • Validity and Utility in Biological Traits.Sean A. Valles - 2013 - Biological Theory 8 (1):93-102.
    “Trait” is a ubiquitous term in biology, but its precise meaning and theoretical foundations remain opaque. After distinguishing between “trait” and “character,” I argue for the value of adopting Theodosius Dobzhansky’s 1956 definition and framework for understanding “trait,” which holds that traits are just “semantic devices” that artificially impose order on continuous biological phenomena. I elaborate on this definition to distinguish between trait validity (compliance with Dobzhansky’s trait definition) and trait utility (usefulness of a trait). As a consequence of this (...)
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  • Rethinking the Evolution of Consciousness.Thomas Polger - 2007 - In Susan Schneider & Max Velmans (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness. Blackwell. pp. 72--87.
    Suppose that consciousness is a natural feature of biological organisms, and that it is a capacity or property or process that resides in a single organ. In that case there is a straightforward question about the consciousness organ, namely: How did the consciousness organ come to be formed and why is its presence maintained in those organisms that have it? Of course answering this question might be rather difficult, particularly if the consciousness organ is made of soft tissue that leaves (...)
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