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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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Conceptual Conservatism: The Case of Normative Functions

Conceptual Conservatism: The Case of Normative Functions

(p.127) 8 Conceptual Conservatism: The Case of Normative Functions
Functions in Biological and Artificial Worlds

Paul Sheldon Davies

The MIT Press

This chapter argues that biologists who cling to function talk are suffering from “conceptual conservatism” and that function talk should be given up. It addresses that the concept of normative functions is theorized. With respect to a wide range of similarly dubious concepts, it suggests that the commitment to conceptual conservatism is abandoned. It concentrates on the core commitment of all conservatives, not the differences in degree among them. This chapter shows that any concept dubious by descent or by psychological role ought to be divested of its former authority in the way the intellectual tasks are formulated.

Keywords:   conceptual conservatism, normative functions, conservatives, authority, intellectual tasks

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