Nature's Purposes

Nature's Purposes

Analyses of Function and Design in Biology

Edited by Colin Allen, Marc Bekoff and George Lauder

This volume provides a guide to the discussion among biologists and philosophers about the role of concepts such as function and design in an evolutionary understanding of life.

A Bradford Book

Hardcover $85.00 S
Paperback $42.00 X £33.00

Overview

Author(s)

Summary

This volume provides a guide to the discussion among biologists and philosophers about the role of concepts such as function and design in an evolutionary understanding of life.

Within the natural sciences, only biologists take seriously teleological statements about design, purpose, and adaptive function. Some biologists claim that to understand the complex morphological and behavioral traits of organisms we must say what they are for, which is to give a teleological explanation of why organisms have them. Others argue that the theory of natural selection, in providing statistical explanations for the same phenomena, obviates any need for teleological thinking. If teleology cannot be eliminated from biology, it raises fundamental questions about the nature of biological explanation and about the relationship of biology to the rest of science.To account for "Nature's purposes" is arguably the most important basic issue in the philosophy of biology. This volume provides a guide to the discussion among biologists and philosophers about the role of concepts such as function and design in an evolutionary understanding of life. All of the contributors examine biological teleology from a naturalistic perspective. Most of them maintain that teleological claims in biology both describe and explain something—but opinions vary as to exactly what is explained and how.

Contributors Fred Adams, Colin Allen, Ron Amundson, Francisco J. Ayala, Mark Bedau, Marc Bekoff, John Bigelow, Walter J. Bock, Robert N. Brandon, Robert Cummins, Berent Enç, Carl Gans, Peter Godfrey-Smith, Stephen Jay Gould, Paul E. Griffiths, R. A. Hinde, Philip Kitcher, George V. Lauder, Ruth Garrett Millikan, S. D. Mitchell, Ernest Nagel, Karen Neander, Robert Pargetter, M. J. S. Rudwick, Gerd von Wahlert, Elisabeth S. Vrba, Larry Wright

Hardcover

Out of Print ISBN: 9780262011686 603 pp. | 6 in x 8.9 in

Paperback

$42.00 X | £33.00 ISBN: 9780262510974 603 pp. | 6 in x 8.9 in

Editors

Colin Allen

Colin Allen is Professor of Philosophy at Texas A&M University. He is the coauthor of Nature's Purposes (MIT Press, 1998), Species of Mind (MIT Press, 1997), and The Cognitive Animal (MIT Press, 2001).

Marc Bekoff

Marc Bekoff is Professor of Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

George Lauder