Against Organizational Functions

Philosophy of Science 84 (5):1093-1103 (2017)
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Abstract

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 have tried to avoid that objection and show how they fail.

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