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What Functions Explain
Functional Explanation and Self-Reproducing Systems

$67.99 (C)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Biology

  • Date Published: August 2007
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521038850

$ 67.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • This book offers an examination of functional explanation as it is used in biology and the social sciences, and focuses on the kinds of philosophical presuppositions that such explanations carry with them. McLaughlin gives a critical review of the debate on functional explanation in the philosophy of science that has occurred over the past fifty years. He discusses the history of the philosophical question of teleology, and provides a comprehensive review of the postwar literature on functional explanation. The book provides a sophisticated and detailed Aristotelian analysis of our concept of natural functions, and offers a positive contribution to the ongoing debate on the topic.

    • A significant contribution to to the literature on functions and functional issues
    • A timely and sophisticated analysis of our concept of a natural function
    • Discusses the the history of the philosophical question of teleology and critically reviews the post-war literature in philosophy of science on functional explanation
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'McLaughlin has given us an original and daring account of functional explanation … [his] fascinating account of organisms as self-maintaining systems is important …' Acta Biotheoretica

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2007
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521038850
    • length: 272 pages
    • dimensions: 225 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.408kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Functions and Intentions:
    1. Introduction
    2. The problem of teleology
    3. Intentions and the functions of artifacts
    Part II. The Analysis of Functional Explanation:
    4. Basic positions in philosophy of science: Hempel and Nagel
    5. The etiological view
    6. The dispositional view
    Part III. Self-Reproducing Systems:
    7. Artifacts and organisms
    8. Feedback mechanisms and their beneficiaries
    9. Having a good
    10. What functions explain

  • Author

    Peter McLaughlin, Universität Konstanz, Germany

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