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  1. Learning and Selection Processes.Marc Artiga - 2010 - Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 25 (2):197-209.
    In this paper I defend a teleological explanation of normativity, i. e., I argue that what an organism is supposed to do is determined by its etiological function. In particular, I present a teleological account of the normativity that arises in learning processes, and I defend it from some objections.
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  • Teleological Theories of Mental Content.Peter Schulte & Karen Neander - 2022 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • Adaptation as Process: The Future of Darwinism and the Legacy of Theodosius Dobzhansky.David J. Depew - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (1):89-98.
    Conceptions of adaptation have varied in the history of genetic Darwinism depending on whether what is taken to be focal is the process of adaptation, adapted states of populations, or discrete adaptations in individual organisms. I argue that Theodosius Dobzhansky’s view of adaptation as a dynamical process contrasts with so-called “adaptationist” views of natural selection figured as “design-without-a-designer” of relatively discrete, enumerable adaptations. Correlated with these respectively process and product oriented approaches to adaptive natural selection are divergent pictures of organisms (...)
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  • Consequence Etiology and Biological Teleology in Aristotle and Darwin.David J. Depew - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 39 (4):379-390.
    Aristotle’s biological teleology is rooted in an epigenetic account of reproduction. As such, it is best interpreted by consequence etiology. I support this claim by citing the capacity of consequence etiology’s key distinctions to explain Aristotle’s opposition to Empedocles. There are implications for the relation between ancient and modern biology. The analysis reveals that in an important respect Darwin’s account of adaptation is closer to Aristotle’s than to Empedocles’s. They both rely on consequence etiological considerations to evade attributing the purposiveness (...)
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  • Fighting the Good Cause: Meaning, Purpose, Difference, and Choice.David Haig - 2014 - Biology and Philosophy 29 (5):675-697.
    Concepts of cause, choice, and information are closely related. A cause is a choice that can be held responsible. It is a difference that makes a difference. Information about past causes and their effects is a valuable commodity because it can be used to guide future choices. Information about criteria of choice is generated by choosing a subset from an ensemble for ‘reasons’ and has meaning for an interpreter when it is used to achieve an end. Natural selection evolves interpreters (...)
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  • Handbook of Evolutionary Thinking in the Sciences.Thomas Heams, Philippe Huneman, Guillaume Lecointre & Marc Silberstein (eds.) - 2015 - Springer.
    The Darwinian theory of evolution is itself evolving and this book presents the details of the core of modern Darwinism and its latest developmental directions. The authors present current scientific work addressing theoretical problems and challenges in four sections, beginning with the concepts of evolution theory, its processes of variation, heredity, selection, adaptation and function, and its patterns of character, species, descent and life. The second part of this book scrutinizes Darwinism in the philosophy of science and its usefulness in (...)
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  • A Heuristic Science‐Based Naturalism as a Partner for Theological Reflections on the Natural World.Paolo D'Ambrosio - 2015 - Zygon 50 (4):962-981.
    After a few general observations on scientific activity, the author briefly comments on different versions of naturalism. Subsequently, he suggests that the birth of evolutionary biology and its successive developments may show how the natural world comes to be differently conceived as scientific advancements are accomplished. Then the main thesis is outlined by introducing the principles of a heuristic science-based naturalism not conclusively defining the real and the knowable. From the epistemological perspective, heuristic naturalism is meant to be framed in (...)
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  • Perceptual Capacities.Susanna Schellenberg - 2019 - In Dena Shottenkirk & Steven Gouveia (eds.), Perception, Cognition, and Aesthetics. London: Routledge. pp. 137 - 169.
    Despite their importance in the history of philosophy and in particular in the work of Aristotle and Kant, mental capacities have been neglected in recent philosophical work. By contrast, the notion of a capacity is deeply entrenched in psychology and the brain sciences. Driven by the idea that a cognitive system has the capacity it does in virtue of its internal components and their organization, it is standard to appeal to capacities in cognitive psychology. The main benefit of invoking capacities (...)
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  • Consequence Etiology and Biological Teleology in Aristotle and Darwin.David J. Depew - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 39 (4):379-390.
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  • Adaptation as Process: The Future of Darwinism and the Legacy of Theodosius Dobzhansky.David J. Depew - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (1):89-98.
  • 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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  • 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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  • Biological Teleology, Reductionism, and Verbal Disputes.Sandy C. Boucher - 2021 - Foundations of Science 26 (4):859-880.
    The extensive philosophical discussions and analyses in recent decades of function-talk in biology have done much to clarify what biologists mean when they ascribe functions to traits, but the basic metaphysical question—is there genuine teleology and design in the natural world, or only the appearance of this?—has persisted, as recent work both defending, and attacking, teleology from a Darwinian perspective, attest. I argue that in the context of standard contemporary evolutionary theory, this is for the most part a verbal, rather (...)
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  • Teleology and the Organism: Kant's Controversial Legacy for Contemporary Biology.Andrea Gambarotto & Auguste Nahas - 2022 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 93:47-56.
  • From Life-Like to Mind-Like Explanation: Natural Agency and the Cognitive Sciences.Alex Djedovic - 2020 - Dissertation, University of Toronto, St. George Campus
    This dissertation argues that cognition is a kind of natural agency. Natural agency is the capacity that certain systems have to act in accordance with their own norms. Natural agents are systems that bias their repertoires in response to affordances in the pursuit of their goals. Cognition is a special mode of this general phenomenon. Cognitive systems are agents that have the additional capacity to actively take their worlds to be certain ways, regardless of whether the world is really that (...)
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  • Haugen, Heen Og Bjørklys Kritikk Av Ole Martin Moen Bygger På Omstridte Samfunnsvitenskapelige Premisser Og En Misforståelse Av Evolusjonsteori.Mats Lillehagen - 2018 - Norsk Filosofisk Tidsskrift 53 (4):225-236.
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  • Relativism or Absolutism?Daniel Paksi - 2016 - Common Knowledge 22 (3):473-487.
    This essay responds to an article, “Epistemic Grace: Antirelativism as Theology in Disguise,” by the philosopher and sociologist of knowledge David Bloor that was published in Common Knowledge 13, nos. 2–3 : 250–80. Bloor's main argument was that there is no third way between relativism and absolutism—that all philosophical positions must fall under one or the other heading. Daniel Paksi's response is that Bloor covertly subscribes to a trichotomy of umbrella headings: idealist relativism, materialist relativism, and absolutism. Bloor, it is (...)
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  • How We Think About Human Nature: The Naturalizing Error.Douglas Allchin & Alexander J. Werth - 2020 - Philosophy of Science 87 (3):499-517.
    History is littered with scientifically ill-founded claims about human nature. They frequently appear in normative contexts, projecting ideology or values onto nature (what we call the naturalizing...
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  • What Does Natural Selection Explain? Correction to Sober.Karen Neander - 1988 - Philosophy of Science 55 (3):422-426.
    In this paper I argue against Sober's claim that natural selection does not explain the traits of individuals. Sober argues that natural selection only explains the distribution of traits in a population. My point is that the explanation of an individual's traits involves us in a description of the individual's ancestry, and in an explanation of the distribution of traits in that ancestral population. Thus Sober is wrong, natural selection is part of the explanation of the traits of individuals.
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  • Function Statements.Peter Achinstein - 1977 - Philosophy of Science 44 (3):341-367.
    An examination of difficulties in three standard accounts of functions leads to the suggestion that sentences of the form "the function of x is to do y" are used to make a variety of different claims, all of which involve a means-end relationship and the idea of design, or use, or benefit. The analysis proposed enables us to see what is right and also wrong with accounts that analyze the meaning of function statements in terms of good consequences, goals, and (...)
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  • Comments on Some Recent Analyses of Functional Statements in Biology.Kenneth K. Baublys - 1975 - Philosophy of Science 42 (4):469-486.
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  • A Comment on Ruse's Analysis of Function Statements.Larry Wright - 1972 - Philosophy of Science 39 (4):512-514.
    Michael Ruse has offered an interesting and insightful analysis of function statements in biology. The analysis he gives of statements of the form ‘The function of x in z is to do y‘ is : z does y by using x.y is an adaptation.The first thing to notice about this formulation is the peculiarity of step. There are many cases in which we would naturally say that x was the adaptation, instead of y; or perhaps we might say that everything (...)
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  • Are Species Intelligent? Look for Genetic Knowledge Structures.J. David Smith - 1990 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13 (1):89-90.
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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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  • The Imago Dei as a Work in Progress: A Perspective From Paleoanthropology.Johan De Smedt & Helen De Cruz - 2014 - Zygon 49 (1):135-156.
    This article considers the imago Dei from the perspective of paleoanthropology. We identify structural, functional, and relational elements of the imago Dei that emerged mosaically during human evolution. Humans are unique in their ability to relate to each other and to God, and in their membership of cultural communities where shared attention, the transmission of moral norms, and symbolic behavior are important elements. We discuss similarities between our approach and the concept of theosis adopted in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
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  • Evolution, Development, and Learning in Cognitive Science.David Leiser - 1990 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13 (1):80-81.
  • Metaphysics and Common Usage.David L. Hull - 1981 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 4 (2):290-291.
  • Teleological Explanation: Surveying the Landscape.Jonathan Birch - 2009 - Dissertation, University of Cambridge
    This MPhil dissertation presents a novel account of teleological explanations in biology. I outline the “shorthand approach” to such explanations, on which they are taken to convey implicit evolutionary explanations. “Selected effects” accounts of teleological explanation dominate recent literature, but they struggle to accommodate teleological explanations of complex traits built through cumulative selection. I articulate the general notion of a landscape explanation, which, applied to biology, explains the evolution of complex features in a population by citing salient features of the (...)
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  • Nietzsche Contra Darwin.John Richardson - 2002 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 65 (3):537-575.
    Nietzsche attributes 'will power' to all living things, but this seems in sharp conflict with other positions important to him-and implausible besides. The doctrine smacks of both metaphysics and anthropomorphizing, which he elsewhere derides. Will to power seems to be an intentional end-directedness, involving cognitive or representational powers he is rightly loath to attribute to all organisms, and tends to downplay even in persons. This paper argues that we find a stronger reading of will to power-both more plausible and more (...)
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  • The Naturalizing Error.Douglas Allchin & Alexander J. Werth - 2017 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (1):3-18.
    We describe an error type that we call the naturalizing error: an appeal to nature as a self-justified description dictating or limiting our choices in moral, economic, political, and other social contexts. Normative cultural perspectives may be subtly and subconsciously inscribed into purportedly objective descriptions of nature, often with the apparent warrant and authority of science, yet not be fully warranted by a systematic or complete consideration of the evidence. Cognitive processes may contribute further to a failure to notice the (...)
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  • Functions and Mental Representation: The Theoretical Role of Representations and its Real Nature.Miguel Sebastián - 2017 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 16 (2):317-336.
    Representations are not only used in our folk-psychological explanations of behaviour, but are also fruitfully postulated, for example, in cognitive science. The mainstream view in cognitive science maintains that our mind is a representational system. This popular view requires an understanding of the nature of the entities they are postulating. Teleosemantic theories face this challenge, unpacking the normativity in the relation of representation by appealing to the teleological function of the representing state. It has been argued that, if intentionality is (...)
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  • Causes, Proximate and Ultimate.Richard C. Francis - 1990 - Biology and Philosophy 5 (4):401-415.
    Within evolutionary biology a distinction is frequently made between proximate and ultimate causes. One apparently plausible interpretation of this dichotomy is that proximate causes concern processes occurring during the life of an organism while ultimate causes refer to those processes (particularly natural selection) that shaped its genome. But ultimate causes are not sought through historical investigations of an organisms lineage. Rather, explanations referring to ultimate causes typically emerge from functional analyses. But these functional analyses do not identify causes of any (...)
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  • Objetividad versus inteligibilidad de las funciones biológicas: La paradoja normativa y el autismo epistemológico de las ciencias modernas.Alberto Molina Pérez - 2006 - Ludus Vitalis 14 (26):39-67.
    Finality, design and purpose have started to be excluded from the language of the natural sciences since the XVIIth century. Darwin succeeded in excluding them from his theory of evolution appealing to a blind and mechanical natural selection. Today, the most usual definitions for the concept of biological function take for granted that functions: 1) are not dependent on a goal; 2) are not dependent on observers, but only on nature; 3) are explicable in causal terms, either with reference to (...)
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  • Tye-Dyed Teleology and the Inverted Spectrum.Jason Ford - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 156 (2):267-281.
    Michael Tye’s considered position on visual experience combines representationalism with externalism about color, so when considering spectrum inversion, he needs a principled reason to claim that a person with inverted color vision is seeing things incorrectly. Tye’s responses to the problem of the inverted spectrum ( 2000 , in: Consciousness, color, and content, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA and 2002a , in: Chalmers (ed.) Philosophy of mind: classical and contemporary readings, Oxford University Press, Oxford) rely on a teleological approach to (...)
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  • The Negative View of Natural Selection.Jonathan Birch - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (2):569-573.
    An influential argument due to Elliott Sober, subsequently strengthened by Denis Walsh and Joel Pust, moves from plausible premises to the bold conclusion that natural selection cannot explain the traits of individual organisms. If the argument were sound, the explanatory scope of selection would depend, surprisingly, on metaphysical considerations concerning origin essentialism. I show that the Sober-Walsh-Pust argument rests on a flawed counterfactual criterion for explanatory relevance. I further show that a more defensible criterion for explanatory relevance recently proposed by (...)
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  • The Struggle for Life and Adaptation by Natural Selection.Adam Krashniak - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (3):1-16.
    While the struggle for life played an important role in the process of natural selection as it was conceived by Darwin, natural selection is commonly characterized today as a process which does not necessarily involve struggle. Nevertheless, there have been some attempts to show the importance of struggle to the process of natural selection. The present paper aims to continue these attempts and clarify the precise evolutionary role of struggle. The paper focuses on a recent dispute regarding the role of (...)
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  • Aristotle, Chimpanzees and Other Political Animals.Larry Arnhart - 1990 - Social Science Information 29 (3):477-557.
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  • Functional Explanation and the Linguistic Analogy.Philippe Van Parijs - 1979 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 9 (4):425-443.
  • Re-Organizing Organizational Accounts of Function.Marc Artiga - 2011 - Applied ontology 6 (2):105-124.
    In this paper I discuss a recent theory on functions called Organizational Account. This theory seeks to provide a new definition of function that overcomes the distinction between etiological and dispositional accounts and that could be used in biology as well as in technology. I present a definition of function that I think captures the intuitions of Organizational Accounts and consider several objections.
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  • Function and Teleology.Justin Garson - 2008 - In Anya Plutynski & Sahotra Sarkar (eds.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Biology. Malden, MA: Blackwell. pp. 525-549.
    This is a short overview of the biological functions debate in philosophy. While it was fairly comprehensive when it was written, my short book ​A Critical Overview of Biological Functions has largely supplanted it as a definitive and up-to-date overview of the debate, both because the book takes into account new developments since then, and because the length of the book allowed me to go into substantially more detail about existing views.
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  • The Chicken and the Orphean Egg: On the Function of Meaning and the Meaning of Function.Claus Emmeche - 2002 - Sign Systems Studies 30 (1):15-31.
    A central aspect of the relation between biosemiotics and biology is investigated by asking: Is a biological concept of function intrinsically related to a biosemiotic concept of sign action, and vice versa? A biological notion of function is discussed in the light of the attempt to provide an understanding of life processes as being of a semiotic nature, i.e., constituted by sign actions. Does signification and communication in biology always presuppose an organism with distinct semiotic or quasi-semiotic functions? And, symmetrically, (...)
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  • Function by Agreement.Pablo Schyfter - 2015 - Social Epistemology 29 (2):185-206.
    Philosophers of biology have developed an extensive literature on biological functions. Here I propose a treatment of the topic based in social studies of science. I posit that the chief philosophical accounts of biological functions all rest upon a realist ontology of biological functions, one that conceives functions as human-independent qualities of things. Rather than being conceptualised as a property of traits or structures, function should be understood as a status granted by communities acting in accordance with specific domains of (...)
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  • Ideal de orden natural y objetivo explanatorio de la teoría de la selección natural.Gustavo Caponi - 2011 - Filosofia Unisinos 12 (1):20-37.
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  • Probabilistic Causation and the Explanatory Role of Natural Selection.Pablo Razeto-Barry & Ramiro Frick - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (3):344-355.
    The explanatory role of natural selection is one of the long-term debates in evolutionary biology. Nevertheless, the consensus has been slippery because conceptual confusions and the absence of a unified, formal causal model that integrates different explanatory scopes of natural selection. In this study we attempt to examine two questions: (i) What can the theory of natural selection explain? and (ii) Is there a causal or explanatory model that integrates all natural selection explananda? For the first question, we argue that (...)
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  • EXPLICAÇÕES TELEOLÓGICAS E FUNCIONAIS EM LIVROS DIDÁTICOS DE BIOLOGIA DO ENSINO MÉDIO.Ricardo Santos do Carmo - 2010 - Dissertation, Universidade Federal da Bahia, Brazil
    Neste trabalho, avaliamos as implicações que o debate filosófico acerca das explicações em termos de função e objetivo podem ter no contexto educacional, particularmente no ensino e aprendizagem de biologia. Para alcançar este objetivo, investigamos como três obras didáticas de biologia do Brasil utilizam a linguagem teleológica na formulação de explicações para os assuntos que são objeto de estudo dessa ciência. Na análise das obras, exploramos os enunciados teleológicos e funcionais a partir de dois projetos explanatórios discutidos na filosofia da (...)
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  • What is Natural Selection?Björn Brunnander - 2007 - Biology and Philosophy 22 (2):231-246.
    ‘Natural selection’ is, it seems, an ambiguous term. It is sometimes held to denote a consequence of variation, heredity, and environment, while at other times as denoting a force that creates adaptations. I argue that the latter, the force interpretation, is a redundant notion of natural selection. I will point to difficulties in making sense of this linguistic practise, and argue that it is frequently at odds with standard interpretations of evolutionary theory. I provide examples to show this; one example (...)
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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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  • Czy współczesne nauki przyrodnicze mogą inspirować filozoficzny i teologiczny namysł nad przyczynowością?Mariusz Tabaczek - 2018 - Scientia et Fides 6 (2):147-180.
    Can Contemporary Science Inspire Philosophical and Theological Reflection on Causality? The cooperation between natural science, philosophy, and theology in an analysis of the causal structure and co-dependency of entities in the universe seems to be both legitimate and expected. It turns out, however, that in practice it oftentimes raises some tensions, questions and difficulties, leading to the development of alternative and in a sense competitive models of causality and of God’s action in the world. What is more, the attitude of (...)
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  • El adaptacionismo como corolario de la teoría de la selección natural.Gustavo Caponi - 2010 - Endoxa 24:123.
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  • Darwin’s Rehabilitation of Teleology Versus Williams’ Replacement of Teleology by Natural Selection.Harry Smit - 2010 - Biological Theory 5 (4):357-365.
    Williams argued that Darwin replaced teleology by natural selection. This article argues that this idea is based on a misunderstanding of Darwin’s critique of the argument from design. Darwin did not replace teleology by evolutionary explanations but showed that we can understand teleology without referring to a Designer. He eliminated the concept of design and rehabilitated Aristotelian teleological explanations. The implication is that adaptations should not be investigated as if designed, but with the help of both teleological and evolutionary explanations. (...)
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