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Functions in Biological and Artificial WorldsComparative Philosophical Perspectives$
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Ulrich Krohs and Peter Kroes

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262113212

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262113212.001.0001

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Biological and Cultural Proper Functions in Comparative Perspective

Biological and Cultural Proper Functions in Comparative Perspective

(p.37) 3 Biological and Cultural Proper Functions in Comparative Perspective
Functions in Biological and Artificial Worlds

Beth Preston

The MIT Press

This chapter addresses the problem of bridging organismic and artifactual functions. It discusses the problem of making sense of the concept of a the proper function. It proposes that proper functions of material culture are based rather in use and reproduction. It argues that things have gone wrong in the first way with regard to selection, and in the second way with regard to fitness. This chapter suggests that neither natural selection nor cultural selection actually picks out the proper functional performances. It shows that cultural fitness is at best only vaguely analogous to biological fitness; and cultural reproduction is often independent of fitness in ways that biological reproduction is not.

Keywords:   organismic functions, artifactual functions, material culture, cultural fitness, natural selection, cultural selection, biological fitness, cultural reproduction, biological reproduction

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