Biological Function and Normativity

Philo 10 (1):17-26 (2007)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Ruth Millikan and others adopt a normative definition of biological functions that is heavily used in areas such as Millikan’s teleosemantics, and also for emerging efforts to naturalize other areas of philosophy. I propose an experiment called the Lapse Test to determine exactly what form of normativity, if any, truly applies to biological functions. Millikan has not gone far enough in playing down as “impersonal” or “quasi” the precise mode of normativity that she attributes to biological functions. Further, her mode fails to qualify as genuine normativity at all, lacking an essential feature: some lapse of responsibility on the part of any entity or system that is charged with failing to do as it is “supposed.” Nor, as we will see, is there anything in English idioms used to describe biological functions that can provide a persuasive argument to rehabilitate Millikan’s normative definition.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,197

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

The Sources of Normativity in the Biological Functions.Andrés Luis Jaume Rodríguez - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 44:33-44.
In defense of proper functions.Ruth Millikan - 1989 - Philosophy of Science 56 (June):288-302.
On the Normativity of the Immune System.Amin T. Turki - 2011 - Medicine Studies 3 (1):29-39.
Millikan's Historical Kinds.Mohan Matthen - 2013 - In Dan Ryder, Justine Kingsbury & Kenneth Williford (eds.), Millikan and her critics. Malden, MA: Wiley. pp. 135-154.
On the normativity of functions.Valerie Gray Hardcastle - 2002 - In Andre Ariew (ed.), Functions. Oxford University Press.
Language: A Biological Model.Ruth Garrett Millikan - 2005 - Oxford, GB: Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Analytics

Added to PP
2011-02-24

Downloads
129 (#142,314)

6 months
4 (#797,974)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

Natural sources of normativity.Wayne Christensen - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (1):104-112.
Meaning and the External World.Kenneth G. Ferguson - 2009 - Erkenntnis 70 (3):299-311.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references