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Functions as Selected Effects: The Conceptual Analyst's Defense

Karen Neander
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 58, No. 2 (Jun., 1991), pp. 168-184
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/187457
Page Count: 17
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Functions as Selected Effects: The Conceptual Analyst's Defense
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Abstract

In this paper I defend an etiological theory of biological functions (according to which the proper function of a trait is the effect for which it was selected by natural selection) against three objections which have been influential. I argue, contrary to Millikan, that it is wrong to base our defense of the theory on a rejection of conceptual analysis, for conceptual analysis does have an important role in philosophy of science. I also argue that biology requires a normative notion of a "proper function", and that a normative notion is not ahistorical.

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