Advertisement

A General Case for Functional Pluralism

  • Robert N. BrandonEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 363)

Abstract

Using examples from functional morphology and evolution, Amundson and Lauder (Biol Philos 9: 443–469, 1994) argued for functional pluralism in biology. More specifically, they argued that both causal role (CR) analyses of function and selected effects (SE) analyses played necessary parts in evolutionary biology, broadly construed, and that neither sort of analysis was reducible to the other. Rather than thinking of these two accounts of function as rivals, they argued that they were instead complimentary. Frédéric Bouchard (Chap. 5, this volume) attempts to make that case stronger using an interesting example—the evolution of ecosystems. This case is interesting in that it involves the sudden appearance of things with functions, which also evolve, but which do not, at least initially, have a selected effect etiology. I am in complete agreement with the above-mentioned positions. Here, I take a different tack in arguing for functional pluralism. I abstract away not only from the details of biological practice but even from the details of the CR and SE accounts to argue for a more general pluralism of historical and ahistorical concepts.

Keywords

Causal Role Conceptual Scheme Adaptive Trait Continental Collision Causal History 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Amundson, R., and G.V. Lauder. 1994. Function without purpose: The uses of casual rose function in evolutionary biology. Biology and Philosophy 9: 443–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bock, W., and G. von Walhert. 1965. Adaptation and the form-function complex. Evolution 10: 269–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brandon, R.N. 1981. Biological teleology: Questions and explanations. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 12: 91–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brandon, R.N. 1990. Adaptation and environment. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Cummins, R. 1975. Functional analysis. Journal of Philosophy 72: 741–765.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gould, S.J. 1989. Wonderful life: The Burgess Shale and the nature of history. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  7. Gould, S.J., and E.S. Vrba. 1982. Exaptation–A missing term in the science of form. Paleobiology 8(1): 4–15.Google Scholar
  8. Kingsolver, J.G., and M.A.R. Koehl. 1985. Aerodynamics, thermoregulation, and the evolution of insect wings: Differential scaling and evolutionary change. Evolution 39: 488–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Lynch, M. 2007a. The frailty of adaptive hypotheses for the origins of organismal complexity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 104: 8597–8604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Lynch, M. 2007b. The origins of genome architecture. Sunderland: Sinauer Associates.Google Scholar
  11. Reeve, H.K., and P.W. Sherman. 1993. Adaptation and the goals of evolutionary research. The Quarterly Review of Biology 68(1): 1–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Wright, L. 1976. Teleological explanations. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Biology and PhilosophyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

Personalised recommendations