Teleological explanations are explanations in terms of actual or expected outcomes; the explicans states the actual or expected consequences of the explicandum. It is helpful to discuss teleological explanations in two categories: purposive explanations and functional explanations. The former attribute some active goal-directed behaviour to the explicandum-agent whereas the latter imply a more passive quality whereby certain consequences occur. The two formulae ‘T’ and ‘F’, given by Wright, illustrate this:
*‘iff’ signifies ‘if and only if’.
- (T) S does B for the sake of G iff:*
B tends to bring about G.
B occurs because (i.e. is brought about by the fact that) it tends to bring about G.1
- (F)The function of X is Z
Z is a consequence (result) of X’s being there,
X is there because it does (results in) Z.2
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© Jennifer Trusted 1987