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  1. Teleological functional explanations: a new naturalist synthesis.Mihnea Capraru - 2024 - Acta Biotheoretica 72 (5):1--22.
    The etiological account of teleological function is beset by several difficulties, which I propose to solve by grafting onto the etiological theory a subordinated goal-contribution clause. This approach enables us to ascribe neither too many teleofunctions nor too few; to give a unitary, one-clause analysis that works just as well for teleological functions derived from Darwinian evolution, as for those derived from human intention; and finally, to save the etiological theory from falsification, by explaining how, in spite of appearances, the (...)
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  2. Artifacts and the Limits of Agentive Authority.Kathrin Koslicki - 2023 - In Miguel Garcia-Godinez (ed.), Thomasson on Ontology. Springer Verlag. pp. 209-241.
    Amie Thomasson and other proponents of author-intention-based accounts of artifacts hold that an artifact is what its original author(s) intended it to be. By contrast, according to the user-based framework developed by Beth Preston, an artifact’s function is determined by the practices of users and reproducers. In this chapter, I argue that both author-intention-based and user-based frameworks suffer from an overly agent-centric orientation: despite their many interesting differences, both approaches run into difficulties with scenarios in which the attitudes or dispositions (...)
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  3. A Causal-Role Account of Ecological Role Functions.Katie H. Morrow - 2023 - Philosophy of Science 90: 433–453.
    I develop an account of ecological role functions—the functions of species within ecosystems—which is informed by alternative regime phenomena in ecology. My account is a causal-role theory which includes a counterfactual sensitivity condition. The account tracks and explains a distinction ecologists make between functions and various activities which are not functions. My counterfactual sensitivity condition resolves the liberality problem often attributed to causal-role theories of function, while also illuminating the explanatory centrality of role functions within ecology.
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  4. Evolutionary Causation and Teleosemantics.Tiago Rama - 2023 - In José Manuel Viejo & Mariano Sanjuán (eds.), Life and Mind - New Directions in the Philosophy of Biology and Cognitive Sciences. Springer.
    Disputes about the causal structure of natural selection have implications for teleosemantics. Etiological, mainstream teleosemantics is based on a causalist view of natural selection. The core of its solution to Brentano’s Problem lies in the solution to Kant’s Puzzle provided by the Modern Synthesis concerning populational causation. In this paper, I suggest that if we adopt an alternative, statisticalist view on natural selection, the door is open for two reflections. First, it allows for setting different challenges to etiological teleosemantics that (...)
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  5. Populations of Neurons and Rocks? Against a Generalization of the Selected Effects Theory of Functions.Jakob Roloff - 2023 - Kriterion – Journal of Philosophy 37 (2-4):69-87.
    Millikan’s (1984. Language, Thought, and Other Biological Categories: New Foundations for Realism. MIT Press) selected effects theory of functions states that functions are effects for which the ancestors of a trait were selected for. As the function is an effect a thing’s ancestors produced, only things that are reproductions in some sense can have functions. Against this reproduction requirement, Garson (2019. What Biological Functions Are and Why They Matter. Cambridge University Press) argues that not only processes of differential reproduction but (...)
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  6. Naturalized Teleology: Cybernetics, Organization, Purpose.Carl Sachs - 2023 - Topoi 42 (3):781-791.
    The rise of mechanistic science in the seventeenth century helped give rise to a heated debate about whether teleology—the appearance of purposive activity in life and in mind—could be naturalized. At issue here were both what is meant by “teleology” as well as what is meant “nature”. I shall examine a specific episode in the history of this debate in the twentieth century with the rise of cybernetics: the science of seemingly “self-controlled” systems. Against cybernetics, Hans Jonas argued that cybernetics (...)
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  7. An account of conserved functions and how biologists use them to integrate cell and evolutionary biology.Jeremy G. Wideman, Steve Elliott & Beckett Sterner - 2023 - Biology and Philosophy 38 (5):1-23.
    We characterize a type of functional explanation that addresses why a homologous trait originating deep in the evolutionary history of a group remains widespread and largely unchanged across the group’s lineages. We argue that biologists regularly provide this type of explanation when they attribute conserved functions to phenotypic and genetic traits. The concept of conserved function applies broadly to many biological domains, and we illustrate its importance using examples of molecular sequence alignments at the intersection of evolution and cell biology. (...)
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  8. 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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  9. Proper functions: etiology without typehood.Geoff Keeling & Niall Paterson - 2022 - Biology and Philosophy 37 (3):1-17.
    The proper function of the heart is pumping the blood. According to what we call the type etiological view, this is because previous tokens of the type HEART were selected for pumping the blood. Nanay :412–431, 2010) argues that the type etiological view is viciously circular. He claims that the only plausible accounts of trait type individuation use proper functions, such that whenever the type etiological view is supplemented with a plausible account of trait type individuation, the result is a (...)
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  10. A Teleofunctionalist Solution to the Problem of Deviant Causal Chains of Actions.Jakob Roloff - 2022 - Kriterion – Journal of Philosophy (3-4):247-261.
    Donald Davidson’s causal theory of actions states that actions must be rationalized and caused by a belief-desire-pair. One problem of such a causal theory are cases of deviant causal chains. In these cases, the rationalized action is not caused in the right way but via a deviant causal chain. It therefore intuitively seems to be no action while all conditions of the causal theory are met. I argue that the problem of deviant causal chains can be solved by adding a (...)
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  11. Immunoglobulins and Antibodies: Conceptual Projections All the Way Down.Bartlomiej Swiatczak - 2022 - Constructivist Foundations 18 (1):85-86.
    Central to vaccination-induced responses, antibodies are suggested by Vaz to operate as observer-dependent entities that owe their status to categorization schemes of immunologists. Inspired by color research by Maturana, he argues that antibodies should be distinguished from immunoglobulins, which unlike the former can be considered as constituents of structural dynamics of an organism, products of millions of years of evolution. However, a deeper understanding of the historical roots of the concept of immunoglobulin and associated “languaging” and naming processes reveals that (...)
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  12. Coherent Causal Control: A New Distinction within Causation.Marcel Weber - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (4):69.
    The recent literature on causality has seen the introduction of several distinctions within causality, which are thought to be important for understanding the widespread scientific practice of focusing causal explanations on a subset of the factors that are causally relevant for a phenomenon. Concepts used to draw such distinctions include, among others, stability, specificity, proportionality, or actual-difference making. In this contribution, I propose a new distinction that picks out an explanatorily salient class of causes in biological systems. Some select causes (...)
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  13. 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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  14. Three overlooked key functional classes for building up minimal synthetic cells.Antoine Danchin - 2021 - Synthetic Biology 6 (1):ysab010.
    Assembly of minimal genomes revealed many genes encoding unknown functions. Three overlooked functional categories account for some of them. Cells are prone to make errors and age. As a first key function, discrimination between proper and changed entities is indispensable. Discrimination requires management of information, an authentic, yet abstract, cur- rency of reality. For example proteins age, sometimes very fast. The cell must identify, then get rid of old proteins without destroying young ones. Implementing discrimination in cells leads to the (...)
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  15. Explanation and modality: on why the Swampman is still worrisome to teleosemanticists.Dongwoo Kim - 2021 - Synthese 199 (1-2):2817-2839.
    In a series of papers, Papineau argues that the Swampman scenario is not even the start of an objection to teleosemantics as a scientific reduction of belief. It is against this claim that I want to argue here. I shall argue that our intuition about the scenario questions the adequacy of the conceptual foundations of teleosemantics, namely, success semantics and the etiological conception of biological function, on which the explanatory power of the theory rests. In the course of argument, some (...)
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  16. 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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  17. Analyzing the etiological functions of consciousness.Dylan Black - 2020 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 1:1-26.
    Scientists disagree about which capacities a functional analysis of consciousness should target. To address this disagreement, I propose that a good functional analysis should target the etiological functions of consciousness. The trouble is that most hypotheses about the etiological origins of consciousness presuppose particular functional analyses. In recent years, however, a small number of scientists have begun to offer evolutionary hypotheses that are relatively theory neutral. I argue that their hypotheses can serve an independent standard for evaluating among theories of (...)
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  18. These confabulations are guaranteed to improve your marriage! Toward a teleological theory of confabulation.Samuel Murray & Peter Finocchiaro - 2020 - Synthese 198 (11):10313-10339.
    Confabulation is typically understood to be dysfunctional. But this understanding neglects the phenomenon’s potential benefits. In fact, we think that the benefits of non-clinical confabulation provide a better foundation for a general account of confabulation. In this paper, we start from these benefits to develop a social teleological account of confabulation. Central to our account is the idea that confabulation manifests a kind of willful ignorance. By understanding confabulation in this way, we can provide principled explanations for the difference between (...)
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  19. Systemic Analysis and Functional Explanation: Structure and Limitations.Andrea Soledad Olmos, Ariel Jonathan Roffé & Santiago Ginnobili - 2020 - In Lorenzo Baravalle & Luciana Zaterka (eds.), Life and Evolution: Latin American Essays on the History and Philosophy of Biology. Springer. pp. 209-229.
    How questions and why questions interact in complex ways within biological practice. One of the most fruitful accounts to think about this relation is the widely known systemic approach, which has its origin mainly in the works of Robert Cummins (1975, 1983). As we will show, this approach effectively manages to capture much of what biologists do, especially in areas such as molecular biology, neuroscience and neuroethology. Our aim with this work is to discuss the metatheoretical status of the presuppositions (...)
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  20. 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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  21. Are There Teleological Functions to Compute?Dimitri Coelho Mollo - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (3):431-452.
    I analyze a tension at the core of the mechanistic view of computation generated by its joint commitment to the medium independence of computational vehicles and to computational systems possessing teleological functions to compute. While computation is individuated in medium-independent terms, teleology is sensitive to the constitutive physical properties of vehicles. This tension spells trouble for the mechanistic view, suggesting that there can be no teleological functions to compute. I argue that, once considerations about the relevant function-bestowing factors for computational (...)
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  22. 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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  23. Systemic functional adaptedness and domain-general cognition: broadening the scope of evolutionary psychology.Michael Lundie - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (1):8.
    Evolutionary psychology tends to be associated with a massively modular cognitive architecture. On this framework of human cognition, an assembly of specialized information processors called modules developed under selection pressures encountered throughout the phylogenic history of hominids. The coordinated activity of domain-specific modules carries out all the processes of belief fixation, abstract reasoning, and other facets of central cognition. Against the massive modularity thesis, I defend an account of systemic functional adaptedness, according to which non-modular systems emerged because of adaptive (...)
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  24. 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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  25. 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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  26. 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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  27. La teoría de la selección natural. Una exploración metacientífica.Santiago Ginnobili - 2018 - Bernal: Universidad Nacional de Quilmes.
    Este libro analiza y reconstruye una de las teorías científicas que más discusiones han provocado en el ámbito de la biología, de la filosofía y de la sociedad: la teoría de la selección natural. Esta teoría, que ocupa un lugar central en la biología evolutiva, se encuentra en el centro de la revolución darwiniana, uno de los cambios más radicales ocurridos en la historia de la ciencia y, sin dudas, uno de los que más consecuencias han tenido sobre la ciencia (...)
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  28. A persistence enhancing propensity account of ecological function to explain ecosystem evolution.Antoine C. Dussault & Frédéric Bouchard - 2017 - Synthese 194 (4).
    We argue that ecology in general and biodiversity and ecosystem function research in particular need an understanding of functions which is both ahistorical and evolutionarily grounded. A natural candidate in this context is Bigelow and Pargetter’s evolutionary forward-looking account which, like the causal role account, assigns functions to parts of integrated systems regardless of their past history, but supplements this with an evolutionary dimension that relates functions to their bearers’ ability to thrive and perpetuate themselves. While Bigelow and Pargetter’s account (...)
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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. 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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  31. Malfunction Defended.Ema Sullivan-Bissett - 2017 - Synthese 194 (7):2501-2522.
    Historical accounts of biological function are thought to have, as a point in their favour, their being able to accommodate malfunction. Recently, this has been brought into doubt by Paul Sheldon Davies’s argument for the claim that both selected malfunction (that of the selected functions account) and weak etiological malfunction (that of the weak etiological account), are impossible. In this paper I suggest that in light of Davies’s objection, historical accounts of biological function need to be adjusted to accommodate malfunction. (...)
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  32. 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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  33. Developing the explanatory dimensions of part–whole realization.Ronald Endicott - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (12):3347-3368.
    I use Carl Gillett’s much heralded dimensioned theory of realization as a platform to develop a plausible part–whole theory. I begin with some basic desiderata for a theory of realization that its key terms should be defined and that it should be explanatory. I then argue that Gillett’s original theory violates these conditions because its explanatory force rests upon an unspecified “in virtue of” relation. I then examine Gillett’s later version that appeals instead to theoretical terms tied to “mechanisms.” Yet (...)
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  34. Functionalism, superduperfunctionalism, and physicalism: lessons from supervenience.Ronald Endicott - 2016 - Synthese 193 (7):2205-2235.
    Philosophers almost universally believe that concepts of supervenience fail to satisfy the standards for physicalism because they offer mere property correlations that are left unexplained. They are thus compatible with non-physicalist accounts of those relations. Moreover, many philosophers not only prefer some kind of functional-role theory as a physically acceptable account of mind-body and other inter-level relations, but they use it as a form of “superdupervenience” to explain supervenience in a physically acceptable way. But I reject a central part of (...)
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  35. ¿Es la biología funcional eliminable?Andrea Olmos & Santiago Ginnobili - 2016 - Perspectivas 1 (2):69-100.
    RESUMEN Pocas polémicas en el ámbito de la filosofía de la biología han llevado tanto espacio como la que existen alrededor de la explicación funcional y del lenguaje funcional. Varios de los enfoques principales que han tratado de reconstruir este tipo de explicación y elucidar tal lenguaje, aunque fuertemente heterogéneos, comparten la idea de que el lenguaje funcional no es más que un modo de hablar del cual puede prescindirse, pues, asumen que el lenguaje funcional puede ser definido a partir (...)
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  36. Mechanisms and Model-Based Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging.Mark Povich - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (5):1035-1046.
    Mechanistic explanations satisfy widely held norms of explanation: the ability to manipulate and answer counterfactual questions about the explanandum phenomenon. A currently debated issue is whether any nonmechanistic explanations can satisfy these explanatory norms. Weiskopf argues that the models of object recognition and categorization, JIM, SUSTAIN, and ALCOVE, are not mechanistic yet satisfy these norms of explanation. In this article I argue that these models are mechanism sketches. My argument applies recent research using model-based functional magnetic resonance imaging, a novel (...)
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  37. From Aristotle’s Teleology to Darwin’s Genealogy: The Stamp of Inutility, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015 (pdf: Contents, Introduction).Marco Solinas - 2015 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
    Starting with Aristotle and moving on to Darwin, Marco Solinas outlines the basic steps from the birth, establishment and later rebirth of the traditional view of living beings, and its overturning by evolutionary revolution. The classic framework devised by Aristotle was still dominant in the 17th Century world of Galileo, Harvey and Ray, and remained hegemonic until the time of Lamarck and Cuvier in the 19th Century. Darwin's breakthrough thus takes on the dimensions of an abandonment of the traditional finalistic (...)
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  38. The Function of Perception.Peter J. Graham - 2014 - In Abrol Fairweather (ed.), Virtue Scientia: Bridges between Virtue Epistemology and Philosophy of Science. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Synthese Library. pp. 13-31.
    What is the biological function of perception? I hold perception, especially visual perception in humans, has the biological function of accurately representing the environment. Tyler Burge argues this cannot be so in Origins of Objectivity (Oxford, 2010), for accuracy is a semantical relationship and not, as such, a practical matter. Burge also provides a supporting example. I rebut the argument and the example. Accuracy is sometimes also a practical matter if accuracy partly explains how perception contributes to survival and reproduction.
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  39. Functionalism and The Independence Problems.Darren Bradley - 2013 - Noûs 47 (1):545-557.
    The independence problems for functionalism stem from the worry that if functional properties are defined in terms of their causes and effects then such functional properties seem to be too intimately connected to these purported causes and effects. I distinguish three different ways the independence problems can be filled out – in terms of necessary connections, analytic connections and vacuous explanations. I argue that none of these present serious problems. Instead, they bring out some important and over-looked features of functionalism.
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  40. Functions and mechanisms: a perspectivalist view.Carl F. Craver - 2013 - In Philippe Huneman (ed.), Functions: Selection and Mechanisms. Springer. pp. 133--158.
  41. The functional sense of mechanism.Justin Garson - 2013 - Philos Sci 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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  42. Theoreticians as Professional Outsiders: The Modeling Strategies of John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener.Ehud Lamm - 2013 - In Oren Harman & Michael Dietrich (eds.), Biology Outside the Box: Boundary Crossers and Innovation in Biology. Chicago University Press.
    Both von Neumann and Wiener were outsiders to biology. Both were inspired by biology and both proposed models and generalizations that proved inspirational for biologists. Around the same time in the 1940s von Neumann developed the notion of self reproducing automata and Wiener suggested an explication of teleology using the notion of negative feedback. These efforts were similar in spirit. Both von Neumann and Wiener used mathematical ideas to attack foundational issues in biology, and the concepts they articulated had lasting (...)
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  43. A Unified Cognitive Model of Visual Filling-In Based on an Emergic Network Architecture.David Pierre Leibovitz - 2013 - Dissertation, Carleton University
    The Emergic Cognitive Model (ECM) is a unified computational model of visual filling-in based on the Emergic Network architecture. The Emergic Network was designed to help realize systems undergoing continuous change. In this thesis, eight different filling-in phenomena are demonstrated under a regime of continuous eye movement (and under static eye conditions as well). -/- ECM indirectly demonstrates the power of unification inherent with Emergic Networks when cognition is decomposed according to finer-grained functions supporting change. These can interact to raise (...)
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  44. Functional-Causal Explanation and Its Role in Designing Pharmacological Cardioprotective Therapies.Tomasz Rzepinski - 2013 - Filozofia Nauki 21 (3):99 - +.
  45. 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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  46. Function attribution depends on the explanatory context: A Reply to Neander and Rosenberg's Reply to Nanay.Bence Nanay - 2012 - Journal of Philosophy 109 (10):623-627.
    In ‘A modal theory of function’, I gave an argument against all existing theories of function and outlined a new theory. Karen Neander and Alex Rosenberg argue against both my negative and my positive claim. My aim here is not merely to defend my account from their objections, but to (a) very briefly point out that the new account of etiological function they propose in response to my criticism cannot avoid the circularity worry either and, more importantly, to (b) highlight, (...)
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  47. Konzepte und Konstruktionen des Lebenden: philosophische und biologische Aspekte einer künstlichen Herstellung von Mikroorganismen.Elke Witt - 2012 - Freiburg: Alber.
    Im Zuge der Entwicklung der Synthetischen Biologie lassen sich zur Zeit in den modernen Lebenswissenschaften Bemühungen erkennen, Leben künstlich herzustellen. Die vorliegende Arbeit befasst sich mit den erkenntnistheoretischen Aspekten der Versuche einer technischen Erzeugung von minimalen Lebensformen. Sie untersucht, auf welchen unterschiedlichen Grundannahmen die aktuellen Projekte zur Herstellung von Proto- und Minimalorganismen beruhen bzw. welche Eigenschaften von Organismen als konstitutiv für die Lebensprozesse angenommen werden.
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  48. Causal Role Theories of Functional Explanation.Mark B. Couch - 2011 - In James Fieser & Bradley Dowden (eds.), Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  49. 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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  50. Teleonomy.Boris Hennig - 2011 - History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis 14 (1):185-202.
    The distinction between teleology and teleonomy that biologists sometimes refer to seems to be helpful in certain contexts, but it is used in several different ways and has rarely been clearly drawn. This paper discusses three prominent uses of the term “teleonomy” and traces its history back to what seems to be its first use. This use is examined in detail and then justified and refined on the basis of elements found in the philosophy of Aristotle, Kant, Anscombe and others. (...)
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