Synthese Library

Functions: selection and mechanisms

Editors: Huneman, Philippe (Ed.)

  • Discrete sections cover functions in philosophy of biology, and psychology and technology
  • Covers the evolving debates between etiological views on function, and those which are more systemic  
  • Features original new papers from key voices as well as research by emerging academics  
  • Full of insights on hot topics from formal ontology to ecosystems evolution ​
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eBook $119.00
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-94-007-5304-4
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $159.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-94-007-5303-7
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
About this book

This  volume handles in various perspectives the concept of function and the nature of functional explanations, topics much discussed since two major and conflicting accounts have been raised by Larry Wright and Robert Cummins’ papers in the 1970s. Here, both Wright’s ‘etiological theory of functions’ and Cummins’ ‘systemic’ conception of functions are refined and elaborated in the light of current scientific practice, with papers showing how the ‘etiological’ theory faces several objections and may in reply be revisited, while its counterpart became ever more sophisticated, as researchers discovered fresh applications for it.  

Relying on a firm knowledge of the original positions and debates, this volume presents cutting-edge research evincing the complexities that today pertain in function theory in various sciences. Alongside original papers from authors central to the controversy, work by emerging researchers taking novel perspectives will add to the potential avenues to be followed in the future. Not only does the book adopt no a priori assumptions about the scope of functional explanations, it also incorporates material from several very different scientific domains, e.g. neurosciences, ecology, or technology.  

In general, functions are implemented in mechanisms; and functional explanations in biology have often an essential relation with natural selection. These two basic claims set the stage for this book’s coverage of investigations concerning both ‘functional’ explanations, and the ‘metaphysics’ of functions. It casts new light on these claims, by testing them through their confrontation with scientific developments in biology, psychology, and recent developments concerning the metaphysics of realization. Rather than debating a single theory of functions, this book presents the richness of philosophical issues raised by functional discourse throughout the various sciences.​

Reviews

“Functions provides a valuable update to the ongoing philosophical discussion surrounding functional ascriptions and explanations. It wisely forgoes fully synoptic coverage of the relevant issues in favor of more penetrating analyses of specific sub-topics, and thereby achieves the goal of reflecting on and developing received views. … recommend it to any scholars who have an interest in the topic of function, and are looking to deepen their perspective on the role functional concepts and discourse play in scientific practice.” (Dana Matthiessen, History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, 2016)

“The current volume includes some fine contributions to the philosophical literature on functions … . There is much here to make the collection attractive and engaging both to the newcomer to the debates, and to the more advanced researcher. It would be ideal as the main text in an advanced philosophy of biology seminar on functions. … A valuable read for anyone interested in this fascinating topic.” (Stavros Ioannidis, Metascience, Vol. 24, 2015)


Table of contents (12 chapters)

  • Introduction

    Huneman, Philippe

    Pages 1-16

  • Evolution and the Stability of Functional Architectures

    Wimsatt, William C.

    Pages 19-41

  • Mechanism, Emergence, and Miscibility: The Autonomy of Evo-Devo

    Walsh, Denis M.

    Pages 43-65

  • Does Oxygen Have a Function, or Where Should the Regress of Functional Ascriptions Stop in Biology?

    Gayon, Jean

    Pages 67-79

  • How Ecosystem Evolution Strengthens the Case for Functional Pluralism

    Bouchard, Frédéric

    Pages 83-95

Buy this book

eBook $119.00
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-94-007-5304-4
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $159.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-94-007-5303-7
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Functions: selection and mechanisms
Editors
  • Philippe Huneman
Series Title
Synthese Library
Series Volume
363
Copyright
2013
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Copyright Holder
Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht
eBook ISBN
978-94-007-5304-4
DOI
10.1007/978-94-007-5304-4
Hardcover ISBN
978-94-007-5303-7
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
VIII, 243
Number of Illustrations and Tables
3 b/w illustrations
Topics