• André Rosolem Sant’Anna Universidade Estadual de Maringá/Departamento de Filosofia


Natural selection. Functional explanations. Etiological theories


In this essay I will argue that natural selection is more important to functional explanations than it has been normally thought in some of the literature in philosophy of biology. I start by giving a brief overview of the two paradigms cases of functional explanations: etiological functions and causal-role functions. I then consider one particular attempt to conciliate both perspectives given by David Buller (1998). Buller’s trial to conciliate both etiological functions and causal-role functions results in what he calls a weak etiological theory. I argue that Buller has not succeeded in his construal of the weak etiological theory: he underestimates the role that selective processes have in functional explanations and so his theory may not be classified as an etiologial theory. As an alternative, I consider the account of etiological functions given by Ruth Millikan (1984) and I argue that Millikan’s theory is more comprehensive to assess contentious case in biology like exaptations. Finally, I conclude by analyzing where the adoption of Millikan’s theory leave us. I argue, contrary to Millikan and others, that once we assume the importance of natural selection in functional explanations, there is no strong reason to resist a linguistic reform of the word function and hence that the attempts to conciliate both etiological functions and causal-role functions are misplaced.


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Biografia do Autor

André Rosolem Sant’Anna, Universidade Estadual de Maringá/Departamento de Filosofia

Possui graduação em Filosofia pela Universidade Estadual de Maringá (2014). Tem interesse em temas da filosofia da mente, metafísica e filosofia da ciência, com ênfase em naturalismo, teorias da percepção, natureza das qualidades e qualia.


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Como Citar

SANT’ANNA, A. R. THE ROLE OF SELECTION IN FUNCTIONAL EXPLANATIONS. Manuscrito: Revista Internacional de Filosofia, Campinas, SP, v. 37, n. 2, p. 227–267, 2015. Disponível em: Acesso em: 1 fev. 2023.