Against Organizational Functions

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Garson, Justin
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Over the last 20 years, several philosophers developed a new approach to biological functions, the organizational (or systems-theoretic) approach. This is not a single theory but a family of theories based on the idea that a trait token can acquire a function by virtue of the way it contributes to a complex, organized, system, and thereby to its own continued persistence, as a token. I argue that the organizational approach faces a serious liberality objection. I examine three different ways organizational theorists have tried to avoid that objection and show how they fail.