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Explanation and Integration in Mind and Brain Science$
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David M. Kaplan

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199685509

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199685509.001.0001

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A Unified Mechanistic Account of Teleological Functions for Psychology and Neuroscience

A Unified Mechanistic Account of Teleological Functions for Psychology and Neuroscience

Chapter:
(p.236) 11 A Unified Mechanistic Account of Teleological Functions for Psychology and Neuroscience
Source:
Explanation and Integration in Mind and Brain Science
Author(s):

Corey J. Maley

Gualtiero Piccinini

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199685509.003.0011

Functions play an important explanatory role in both psychology and neuroscience. Any effort to integrate psychology and neuroscience must provide an account of functions and how they explain in psychology and neuroscience. Yet the ontological foundations for function attributions and functional explanation remain unsettled. In this chapter, we contribute to an integrated science of cognition and behavior by offering a unified account of the teleological functions of multi-level mechanisms. The account applies to both biological traits and artifacts. Teleological functions are stable causal contributions towards the goals of organisms belonging to a reference class within a biological population. The paradigmatic goals of organisms are survival and inclusive fitness, although organisms may have additional goals. Truthmakers for claims about teleological functions are non-teleological features of the world.

Keywords:   function, mechanism, teleology, goal, psychology, neuroscience, survival, inclusive fitness

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