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Title: Biological Teleology, Reductionism, and Verbal Disputes
Contributor(s): Boucher, Sandy C  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2021-12
Early Online Version: 2021-01-03
DOI: 10.1007/s10699-020-09728-3
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Abstract: The extensive philosophical discussions and analyses in recent decades of function-talk in biology have done much to clarify what biologists mean when they ascribe functions to traits, but the basic metaphysical question-is there genuine teleology and design in the natural world, or only the appearance of this?-has persisted, as recent work both defending, and attacking, teleology from a Darwinian perspective, attest. I argue that in the context of standard contemporary evolutionary theory, this is for the most part a verbal, rather than a substantive dispute: the disputants are talking past one another. To justify this claim I develop a general framework within which reductionist views, such as the standard 'etiological' account of biofunctions, occupy an intermediate position between what I call full-blooded realism and full-blooded anti-realism, and suggest that whether such views count as 'realist' views has no objective, theory-neutral answer.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Foundations of Science, 26(4), p. 859-880
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
Place of Publication: Netherlands
ISSN: 1572-8471
Fields of Research (FoR) 2008: 220309 Metaphysics
220206 History and Philosophy of Science (incl. Non-historical Philosophy of Science)
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 500204 History and philosophy of science
500309 Metaphysics
500317 Philosophy of science (excl. history and philosophy of specific fields)
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 970122 Expanding Knowledge in Philosophy and Religious Studies
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: 280119 Expanding knowledge in philosophy and religious studies
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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