Biological function, adaptation, and natural design

Philosophy of Science 62 (4):609-622 (1995)
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Abstract

Recently something close to a consensus about the best way to naturalize the notion of biological function appears to be emerging. Nonetheless, teleological notions in biology remain controversial. In this paper we provide a naturalistic analysis for the notion of natural design. Many authors assume that natural design should be assimilated directly to function. Others find the notion problematic because it suggests that evolution is a directed process. We argue that both of these views are mistaken. Our naturalistic account does not simply equate design with function. We argue that the distinction between function and design is important for understanding the evolution of the physical and behavioral traits of organisms

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Colin Allen
University of Pittsburgh

Citations of this work

An organizational account of biological functions.Matteo Mossio, Cristian Saborido & Alvaro Moreno - 2009 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (4):813-841.
How to Be a Function Pluralist.Justin Garson - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (4):1101-1122.
The Machine Conception of the Organism in Development and Evolution: A Critical Analysis.Daniel J. Nicholson - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 48:162-174.

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References found in this work

Functional analysis.Robert E. Cummins - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.
Intentional systems.Daniel C. Dennett - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (February):87-106.
Functions.Larry Wright - 1973 - Philosophical Review 82 (2):139-168.

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