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Function and Teleology

In Anya Plutynski & Sahotra Sarkar (eds.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Biology. Malden, MA: Blackwell. pp. 525-549 (2008)

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  1. 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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  • 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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  • An Externalist Teleology.Gunnar Babcock & Daniel W. McShea - forthcoming - Synthese:1-26.
    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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  • Moralni, Politički I Društveni Odgovori Na Društvene Devijacije (Eng. Moral, Political, and Social Responses to Antisocial Deviation).Snježana Prijić-Samaržija, Luca Malatesti & Elvio Baccarini (eds.) - 2016 - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Rijeka.
    Ovaj je zbornik nastao kao rezultat istraživanja provedenog unutar istoimenoga znanstveno-istraživačkoga projekta na kojemu su urednici istovremeno bili i glavni istraživači, a ostali autori članovi istraživačke skupine. Kao svjedoci različitih vrsta otklona od prevladavajućeg, uobičajenoga, normalnoga, pozitivnog ili ponašanja koje se karakterizira kao asocijalno, zapitali smo se – što postojeće čini normom, treba li odstupanje od norme nužno smatrati devijacijom i kakvi su poželjni društveni odgovori na odstupanja od normi. Često se smatra ispravnim upravo ono što je prevladavajuće, a ono (...)
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  • Information, Meaning, and Error in Biology.Lucy A. K. Kumar - 2014 - Biological Theory 9 (1):1-11.
    Whether “information” exists in biology, and in what sense, has been a topic of much recent discussion. I explore Shannon, Dretskean, and teleosemantic theories, and analyze whether or not they are able to give a successful naturalistic account of information—specifically accounts of meaning and error—in biological systems. I argue that the Shannon and Dretskean theories are unable to account for either, but that the teleosemantic theory is able to account for meaning. However, I argue that it is unable to account (...)
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  • Re-Evaluating Concepts of Biological Function in Clinical Medicine: Towards a New Naturalistic Theory of Disease.Benjamin Chin-Yee & Ross E. G. Upshur - 2017 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 38 (4):245-264.
    Naturalistic theories of disease appeal to concepts of biological function, and use the notion of dysfunction as the basis of their definitions. Debates in the philosophy of biology demonstrate how attributing functions in organisms and establishing the function-dysfunction distinction is by no means straightforward. This problematization of functional ascription has undermined naturalistic theories and led some authors to abandon the concept of dysfunction, favoring instead definitions based in normative criteria or phenomenological approaches. Although this work has enhanced our understanding of (...)
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  • Environmental Ethics.Roberta L. Millstein - 2013 - In K. Kampourakis (ed.), The Philosophy of Biology: A Companion for Educators. Springer.
    A number of areas of biology raise questions about what is of value in the natural environment and how we ought to behave towards it: conservation biology, environmental science, and ecology, to name a few. Based on my experience teaching students from these and similar majors, I argue that the field of environmental ethics has much to teach these students. They come to me with pent-up questions and a feeling that more is needed to fully engage in their subjects, and (...)
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  • 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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  • 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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  • Functions Must Be Performed at Appropriate Rates in Appropriate Situations.G. Piccinini & Justin Garson - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (1):1-20.
    We sketch a novel and improved version of Boorse’s biostatistical theory of functions. Roughly, our theory maintains that (i) functions are non-negligible contributions to survival or inclusive fitness (when a trait contributes to survival or inclusive fitness); (ii) situations appropriate for the performance of a function are typical situations in which a trait contributes to survival or inclusive fitness; (iii) appropriate rates of functioning are rates that make adequate contributions to survival or inclusive fitness (in situations appropriate for the performance (...)
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  • Functions and Mechanisms: A Perspectivalist View.Carl F. Craver - 2013 - In Philippe Huneman (ed.), Functions: Selection and Mechanisms. Springer. pp. 133--158.
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  • Selected Effects and Causal Role Functions in the Brain: The Case for an Etiological Approach to Neuroscience.Justin Garson - 2011 - Biology and Philosophy 26 (4):547-565.
    Despite the voluminous literature on biological functions produced over the last 40 years, few philosophers have studied the concept of function as it is used in neuroscience. Recently, Craver (forthcoming; also see Craver 2001) defended the causal role theory against the selected effects theory as the most appropriate theory of function for neuroscience. The following argues that though neuroscientists do study causal role functions, the scope of that theory is not as universal as claimed. Despite the strong prima facie superiority (...)
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  • 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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  • Vrijednosti u psihijatriji i pojam mentalne bolesti (Eng. Values in psychiatry and the concept of mental illness).Luca Malatesti & Marko Jurjako - 2016 - In Snježana Prijić-Samaržija, Luca Malatesti & Elvio Baccarini (eds.), Moralni, Politički I Društveni Odgovori Na Društvene Devijacije (Eng. Moral, Political, and Social Responses to Antisocial Deviation). Rijeka: University of Rijeka. pp. 153-181.
    The crucial problem in the philosophy of psychiatry is to determine under which conditions certain behaviors, mental states, and personality traits should be regarded as symptoms of mental illnesses. Participants in the debate can be placed on a continuum of positions. On the one side of the continuum, there are naturalists who maintain that the concept of mental illness can be explained by relying on the conceptual apparatus of the natural sciences, such as biology and neuroscience. On the other side (...)
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  • When not being pluralist is good.Jerzy Brzozowski - 2014 - Scientiae Studia 12 (1):169-178.
    El objetivo de este trabajo es poner al descubierto los principales valores cognitivos y epistemológicos desde los que Warren Weaver puso en marcha el Programa de Biología Experimental, un programa que llevado a cabo desde la presidencia de la división de ciencias naturales de la Fundación Rockefeller, marcó y condicionó en buena medida el posterior desarrollo de la investigación biológica. Para tal fin se mostrará, en primer lugar, cómo fue la llegada de Weaver a la Fundación Rockefeller, así como las (...)
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  • Análisis funcionales Y explicaciones seleccionales en biología. Una crítica de la Concepción etiológica Del concepto de función.Gustavo Caponi - 2010 - Ideas Y Valores 59 (143):51-72.
    Contrariando la concepción etiológica de las funciones biológicas, se pretende mostrar que las explicaciones por selección natural, lejos de justificar atribuciones funcionales, las presuponen; y que estas atribuciones pueden ser entendidas apelando a una especificación particular de la concepción s..
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