[PlanetKR] Applied Ontology Volume 6, Number 2/2011 now online

Nicola Guarino guarino at loa-cnr.it
Fri May 20 07:16:51 EST 2011

We are pleased to announce that Applied Ontology Volume 6, Number 2 / 2011 is now online at http://iospress.metapress.com/content/u015875jv78t/

Applied Ontology is now included in Thomson's ISI Science Citation Index and every major citation service.

Members of IAOA can access the issue by logging in on www.iaoa.org. 

Special issue on The Ontology of Functions
Guest editors: Stefano Borgo, Riichiro Mizoguchi and Barry Smith

On the ontology of functions
Stefano Borgo, Riichiro Mizoguchi and Barry Smith

Regular articles

Re-organizing organizational accounts of function 
Marc Artiga
Abstract. In this paper I discuss a recent theory on functions called Organizational Account. This theory seeks to provide a new definition of function that overcomes the distinction between etiological and dispositional accounts and that could be used in biology as well as in technology. I present a definition of function that I think captures the intuitions of Organizational Accounts and consider several objections.

Functions and fixed types: Biological and other functions in the post-adaptationist era 
Ulrich Krohs
Abstract. Among naturalistic theories of biological functions, only those that do not reduce functions to actual causal roles allow for a distinction of function and dysfunction. Most prominent among those theories are etiological theories of function, which refer to adaptive evolutionary processes as the source of normativity. Standard criticism of this approach refers to the inadequacy of the result that novel traits could not have any function, and to 'swampman'-arguments. I criticize etiological theories of biological functions for the novel reason that it is inadequate in any other theoretical framework than gene deterministic adaptationism, and that present day biology is not adequately described as being uniformly adaptationistic. An alternative theory of normative functions, which refers to the typeñtoken relation as the source of normativity, grasps more adequately function ascriptions within current biological frameworks. The theory naturalizes the typeñtoken relation in terms of type fixation by concrete instances and thus refers only to tokenñtoken interactions. I further develop how this approach unifies biological and artifactual functions and show how it accounts for function ascriptions in cases where ontogenetic processes have an impact on the type of the developing biological entity, and where decisions in the construction site and modifications rather than construction plans are determining types of artifact components.

If engineering function is a family resemblance concept: Assessing three formalization strategies 
Massimiliano Carrara, Pawel Garbacz and Pieter E. Vermaas
Abstract. In this paper we argue that the challenge of the formalization of functions not merely consists of analyzing and formalizing yet another concept; the challenge may also consist of formalizing a concept that is to be taken as a family resemblance concept in the Wittgensteinian sense. We focus on engineering for giving this argument and indicate briefly how the argument can also be given for biological functions. We demonstrate that in engineering there are a number of different meanings attached to the term ìfunctionî, and observe that engineers moreover seem to hold that having all these meanings is useful in their field. This observation make plausible that function indeed is to be taken as a family resemblance concept. Then we describe three strategies for the formalization of functions ñ the revisionary, the overarching and the descriptive strategies ñ and relate them to a number of the current proposals for this formalization. Assessing the strategies with the meta-ontological goals for formalizations of adequacy and minimality, we argue that if function indeed is to be taken as a family resemblance concept, then the descriptive strategy is to be preferred.

More information about the PlanetKR mailing list