Minds and Machines

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 559–585

Teleology as Higher-Order Causation: A Situation-Theoretic Account

  • Robert C. Koons

DOI: 10.1023/A:1008366512300

Cite this article as:
Koons, R.C. Minds and Machines (1998) 8: 559. doi:10.1023/A:1008366512300


Situation theory, as developed by Barwise and his collaborators, is used to demonstrate the possibility of defining teleology (and related notions, like that of proper or biological function) in terms of higher order causation, along the lines suggested by Taylor and Wright. This definition avoids the excessive narrowness that results from trying to define teleology in terms of evolutionary history or the effects of natural selection. By legitimating the concept of teleology, this definition also provides promising new avenues for solving long standing problems in the philosophy of mind, such as the problems of intentionality and mental causation.

teleologycausationbiological functionproper functionmental causationsituation theory

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert C. Koons
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Texas at AustinU.S.A