Biological Function without Natural Design

Creative Commons License

Sol A.

Springer-Verlag , Dordrecht, 2007

  • Publication Type: Book / Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2007
  • Publisher: Springer-Verlag
  • City: Dordrecht
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


In this essay, I argue that in some special cases, artifacts and natural entities may have mere functions, that is, functions without design. In such cases, such artifacts (and natural entities) are intentionally used for a purpose that determines their function. For instance, I use my TV remote control as a paperweight, which becomes its function, though it is not designed for this function. Then I argue that the idea of function without design (or use function) has also significant implications regarding biological function, for it becomes possible to establish biological function without appeal to natural design. I also maintain that the attempts to account for natural design on the basis of biological function, or arguing that they are coextensive is fruitless, since the sole contribution of natural design can be its role in determining biological function, as it is the only relation between artifact design and function.