Philosophy of Science 84 (3):523-543 (2017)

Authors
Justin Garson
Hunter College (CUNY)
Abstract
I present and defend the generalized selected effects theory (GSE) of function. According to GSE, the function of a trait consists in the activity that contributed to its bearer’s differential reproduction, or differential retention, within a population. Unlike the traditional selected effects (SE) theory, it does not require that the functional trait helped its bearer reproduce; differential retention is enough. Although the core theory has been presented previously, I go significantly beyond those presentations by providing a new argument for GSE and defending it from a recent objection. I also sketch its implications for teleosemantics and philosophy of medicine.
Keywords I present and defend the generalized selected effects theory of function. According to GSE, the function of a trait consists in the activity that contributed to its bearer’s differential reproduction, or differential retention, within a population. Unlike the traditional selected effects theory, it does not require that the functional trait helped its bearer reproduce   differential retention is enough. Although the core theory has been presented previously, I go significantly beyond those presentations by providing a new argument for GSE and defending it from a recent objection. I also sketch its implications for teleosemantics and philosophy of medicine
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Reprint years 2017
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DOI 10.1086/692146
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How to Be a Function Pluralist.Justin Garson - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (4):1101-1122.
Why Mental Disorders Are Not Like Software Bugs.Harriet Fagerberg - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science:1-42.

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