A Plea for the Plurality of Function

Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
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 a property of hearts, but a property of hearts cannot be the cause of the presence of hearts, since properties cannot predate their realizers and be causes of them. In section 2 I discuss Wright’s etiological analysis, Cummins’ causal-role analysis, and their critics. In section 3 I defend a version of the “consensus without unity” strategy proposed by Godfrey-Smith from Christopher Boorse’s recent critique (2002). In Section 4 I conclude by reflecting on the relation between functional discourses and physicalism.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
Revision history
Archival date: 2016-06-23
View upload history
References found in this work BETA
Word and Object.Quine, Willard Van Orman
A Treatise of Human Nature.Hume, David & Lindsay, A. D.

View all 39 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Added to PP index

Total views
174 ( #17,336 of 40,716 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
71 ( #7,208 of 40,716 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.