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Neo‐functional Analysis: Phylogenetical Restrictions on Causal Role Functions
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 74, No. 5, Proceedings of the 2006 Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science AssociationPart I: Contributed PapersEdited by Cristina Bicchieri and Jason Alexander (December 2007), pp. 601-615
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/525607
Page Count: 15
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The most recent resurgence of philosophical attention to the so‐called ‘functional talk’ in the sciences can be summarized in terms of the following questions: (Q1) What kind of restrictions, and in particular, what kind of evolutionary restrictions as well as to what extent, is involved in functional ascriptions? (Q2) How can we account for the explanatory import of function‐ascribing statements? This paper addresses these questions through a modified version of Cummins’ functional analysis. The modification in question is concerned with phylogenetical restrictions on causal role functions, and it stems from an analysis of some primary areas in molecular biology. I examine how evolutionary consideration affects the so‐called ‘function‐analytical explanatory strategy’ (Cummins  1998, 2002). Finally, I argue that the neo‐functional analysis here proposed accounts for a certain convergence between the main rival theories of biological function.
Copyright 2007 by the Philosophy of Science Association. All rights reserved.