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  1. The Objectivity of Organizational Functions.Samuel Cusimano & Beckett Sterner - 2020 - Acta Biotheoretica 68 (2):253-269.
    We critique the organizational account of biological functions by showing how its basis in the closure of constraints fails to be objective. While the account treats constraints as objective features of physical systems, the number and relationship of potential constraints are subject to potentially arbitrary redescription by investigators. For example, we show that self-maintaining systems such as candle flames can realize closure on a more thorough analysis of the case, contradicting the claim that these “simple” systems lack functional organization. This (...)
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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Hegel's Organizational Account of Biological Functions.Edgar Maraguat - forthcoming - Hegel Bulletin:1-19.
    Two concepts have polarized the philosophical debates on functions since the 1970s. One is Millikan's concept of ‘proper function’, meant to capture the aetiology of biological organs and artefacts. The other is Cummins's concept of ‘dispositional function’, designed to account for the real work that functional devices perform within a system. In this paper I locate Hegel's concept of biological function in the context of those debates. Admittedly, Hegel's concept is ‘etiological’, since in his account the existence of purposive organs (...)
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  • FueL: Representing Function Structure and Function Dependencies with a UML Profile for Function Modeling.Patryk Burek, Frank Loebe & Heinrich Herre - 2016 - Applied Ontology 11 (2):155-203.
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  • A Unifying Definition for Artifact and Biological Functions.Riichiro Mizoguchi, Yoshinobu Kitamura & Stefano Borgo - 2016 - Applied Ontology 11 (2):129-154.
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  • 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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