Philosophy of Science 86 (5):1146-1156 (2019)

Justin Garson
Hunter College (CUNY)
Theories of function are conventionally divided up into historical and ahistorical ones. Proponents of ahistorical theories often cite the ahistoricity of their accounts as a major virtue. Here, I argue that none of the mainstream “ahistorical” accounts are actually ahistorical. All of them embed, implicitly or explicitly, an appeal to history. In Boorse’s goal-contribution account, history is latent in the idea of statistical-typicality. In the propensity theory, history is implicit in the idea of a species’ natural habitat. In the causal role theory, history is required for making sense of dysfunction. I elaborate some consequences for the functions debate.
Keywords Philosophy of biology  Function and Teleology
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Reprint years 2018, 2019
DOI 10.1086/705472
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References found in this work BETA

Functional Analysis.Robert Cummins - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.
Health as a Theoretical Concept.Christopher Boorse - 1977 - Philosophy of Science 44 (4):542-573.
Functions.Larry Wright - 1973 - Philosophical Review 82 (2):139-168.

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Citations of this work BETA

Putting History Back Into Mechanisms.Justin Garson - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
Biological Functions and Natural Selection: A Reappraisal.Marc Artiga - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (2):1-22.
Proper Functionalism and the Organizational Theory of Functions.Peter J. Graham - forthcoming - In Luis R. G. Oliveira (ed.), Externalism about Knowledge. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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