Functions in Biological and Artificial Worlds: Comparative Philosophical Perspectives

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MIT Press, 2009 - Philosophy - 302 pages
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The notion of function is an integral part of thinking in both biology and technology; biological organisms and technical artifacts are both ascribed functionality. Yet the concept of function is notoriously obscure (with problematic issues regarding the normative and the descriptive nature of functions, for example) and demands philosophical clarification. So too the relationship between biological organisms and technical artifacts: although entities of one kind are often described in terms of the other--as in the machine analogy for biological organism or the evolutionary account of technological development--the parallels between the two break down at certain points. This volume takes on both issues and examines the relationship between organisms and artifacts from the perspective of functionality. Believing that the concept of function is the root of an accurate understanding of biological organisms, technical artifacts, and the relation between the two, the contributors take an integrative approach, offering philosophical analyses that embrace both biological and technical fields of function ascription. They aim at a better understanding not only of the concept of function but also of the similarities and differences between organisms and artifacts as they relate to functionality. Their ontological, epistemological, and phenomenological comparisons will clarify problems that are central to the philosophies of both biology and technology.ContributorsPaul Sheldon Davies, Maarten Franssen, Wybo Houkes, Yoshinobu Kitamura, Peter Kroes, Ulrich Krohs, Tim Lewens, Andrew Light, Françoise Longy, Peter McLaughlin, Riichiro Mizoguchi, Mark Perlman, Beth Preston, Giacomo Romano, Marzia Soavi, Pieter E. Vermaas

 

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Contents

II Bridging Functions of Organisms and Artifacts
12
III Functions and Normativity
89
IV Functions and Classification
163
V Evolutionary Perspectives
223

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About the author (2009)

Peter Kroes is Professor in the Philosophy of Technology, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands.

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