PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Against Organizational Functions

In the last 20 years, several philosophers developed a new approach to biological functions, the organizational (or “systems-theoretic”) 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 that very token contributes to a complex, organized, system, and thereby to its own continued persistence, as a token. I argue that the organizational approach faces an insurmountable liberality objection. I examine three different ways organizational theorists have tried to avoid that objection and show how they all fail to be naturalistically acceptable.

Author Information:

Justin Garson    
Hunter College-CUNY


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