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What Functions Explain: Functional Explanation and Self-Reproducing Systems

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'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

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; 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; Notes; Bibliography; Index.

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