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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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Functions and Norms

Functions and Norms

(p.93) 6 Functions and Norms
Functions in Biological and Artificial Worlds

Peter McLaughlin

The MIT Press

This chapter explores the nature of the normativity of functions. It reviews the three main interpretations of function ascriptions (the intentional, etiological, and causal-role theories of functions). It describes the role that the idea that functions are inherently normative plays in the debate on adequate theories of functions. It analyzes three possible places where normativity may have been implicitly presupposed and thus has been introduced without argument: means-end relations, part-whole relations, and type-token relations. This chapter suggests that the type-token distinction can introduce a minimal normativity into any context in which it is used.

Keywords:   normativity, functions, means-end relations, part-whole relations, type-token relations

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