Synthese 194 (7):2501-2522 (2017)

Authors
Ema Sullivan-Bissett
University of Birmingham
Abstract
Historical accounts of biological function are thought to have, as a point in their favour, their being able to accommodate malfunction. Recently, this has been brought into doubt by Paul Sheldon Davies’s argument for the claim that both selected malfunction (that of the selected functions account) and weak etiological malfunction (that of the weak etiological account), are impossible. In this paper I suggest that in light of Davies’s objection, historical accounts of biological function need to be adjusted to accommodate malfunction. I propose a historical account which places two conditions on membership of a functional kind. My claim is that it is in virtue of a trait’s meeting these conditions that it is a member of a functional kind, and can thus malfunction. I suggest that a version of my proposal can be adopted by both the selected effects and weak etiological theorists, and so conclude that such a proposal meets Davies’s objection.
Keywords Function  Malfunction  Etiology  Generic trait type  Selected functional type  Selection
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Reprint years 2016, 2017
DOI 10.1007/s11229-016-1062-8
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References found in this work BETA

Knowing One’s Own Mind.Donald Davidson - 1987 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 60 (3):441-458.
In Defense of Proper Functions.Ruth Garrett Millikan - 1989 - Philosophy of Science 56 (June):288-302.

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Citations of this work BETA

Biological Function and Epistemic Normativity.Ema Sullivan-Bissett - 2017 - Philosophical Explorations 20 (1):94-110.
Teleological Notions in Biology.Colinn D. Allen - 2003 - In Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

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