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Function, Homology and Character Individuation

Griffiths, Paul Edmund (2005) Function, Homology and Character Individuation. [Preprint]

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Many philosophers believe that 1) most uses of functional language in biology make implicit reference to natural selection and 2) the fundamental way in which biologists identify parts and processes in organisms is by their selected function(s). Both these claims are mistaken. Much functional language in biology refers to actual causal roles, and if this were not so, biology would be impossible. The extensive biological literature on the ‘character concept’ focuses on another principle of biological identity, namely homology. I outline some of this work and use it to refute philosophical arguments for the importance and ubiquity of classification by adaptive function.

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Item Type: Preprint
Griffiths, Paul Edmund
Keywords: etiological theory proper function causal role causal analysis millikan neander cummins cladistics homology character
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Systematics
Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Developmental Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Function/Teleology
Depositing User: Professor Paul Edmund Griffiths
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2005
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 15:13
Item ID: 2351

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