PhilSci Archive

Function, Homology and Character Individuation

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

This is the latest version of this item.


Download (191kB)


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.

Export/Citation: EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
Social Networking:
Share |

Item Type: Preprint
Griffiths, Paul
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: 30 Aug 2005
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 15:13
Item ID: 2424

Available Versions of this Item

Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Monthly Downloads for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item