Science & Education

, Volume 26, Issue 7–9, pp 1071–1073 | Cite as

Philosophical Accounts of Biological Functions

Justin Garson (2016) A Critical Overview of Biological Functions. Springer International Publishing, Dordrecht. ISBN: 978-3-319-32020-5, 113 pages, price: $54.99 (paperback)
  • Maël Montévil
Book Review

The book A critical overview of biological functions is a short monograph by J. Garson, which provides a survey of the views on biological functions in the analytic tradition of philosophy. The notion of function is ubiquitous in biology and all of its subfields. Behind the notion of biological functions lurks the shadow of final causes. Overcoming this shadow is a challenge that has stimulated many philosophers and the literature on this topic is very rich. In the analytic tradition, researchers focus on providing naturalized accounts of functions. To do so, the main difficulty is to provide accounts of functions that exclude the use of final causes. The outcome of this collective work is a diversity of accounts of functions. Some of these accounts are fairly recent while others have been proposed several decades ago and are the object of many discussions.

Overall, the author provides an impressive and concise review of the debate on the various accounts of functions that are held by...


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Conflict of Interest

The author declares no conflict of interest.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire Matière et Systèmes Complexes, UMR 7057, Université Paris 7 Diderot and Institut d’Histoire et de Philosophie des Sciences et des Techniques UMR 8590, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-SorbonneParisFrance

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