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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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The Inherent Normativity of Functions in Biology and Technology

The Inherent Normativity of Functions in Biology and Technology

(p.103) 7 The Inherent Normativity of Functions in Biology and Technology
Functions in Biological and Artificial Worlds

Maarten Franssen

The MIT Press

This chapter examines the role that is played in the debate on what is and what is not the adequate theory of function, by the claim that “function” is an inherently normative concept. It explores exactly how the theories that claim to be able to account for the normativity of function go about doing this. This chapter shows that the proponents of proper function (PF) -type theories do not treat their preferred concept of “function” as being inherently normative. It suggests that systems-with-a-design (SD) theory's central notion of “type fixation” be given a stronger naturalistic footing.

Keywords:   normativity, proper function, systems-with-a-design theory, type fixation, normative concept

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