The selected effects account of biological function reconsideredJustine Kingsbury (University of Waikato)
Providing a naturalistic account of proper function is important both for making sense of the way functions are talked about in biology and in medicine, and for the project of naturalising mental content via teleosemantics. “Selected effects” accounts (such as Karen Neander’s) have long been frontrunners in this field. Recently, however, challenges to this kind of account of proper function have been put forward even by its erstwhile defenders: for example, Paul Griffiths and others argue that it does not fit with biologically detailed accounts of actual selection processes, and John Matthewson argues along similar lines that natural selection comes in degrees and on the face of it biological function does not, suggesting that analysing the former in terms of the latter is therefore problematic. I will argue that a nuanced selected effects account has the resources to handle these challenges.