Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 44, 2008

Philosophy of Nature

Andrés Luis Jaume Rodríguez
Pages 33-44

The Sources of Normativity in the Biological Functions

I present an outline of a normative and non selectionist theory capable of ascribing functional statements to biological items. Biological items are ussually exemplified by the organs as well as traits or behaviours. But we can consider representations too. In fact, my proposal is focused towards a teleosemantical theory of mental content. The teleosemantic approach explains the content of beliefs in terms of the biological functions of those states. Usually, teleosemantical theories of mental representation either ellaborate previously a general theory of functions for biological items, this is the case for Millikan, Neander or Price, or assume a previous selectionist one, as Papineau does. But these proposals are frequently adaptationist in order to keep normatitvity in whatever functional adscription. The recent contributions to the state of the art show the problems of this kind of selectionist view. But they don’t consider the problem of normativity in functional adscriptions. And this problem become important when we pay attention to mental representations as biological facts. I propose an outline of a non selectionist nor adaptationist account of biological functions capable of keeping normativity. My account is suitable to biological traits, in general, and mental representations characterized in terms of biological functions.