|Teleological Notions in Biology|
|Source: Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 2003|
|Paper - Abstract|
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Teleological terms such as “function” and “design” appear frequently in the biological sciences. Examples of teleological claims include:
Teleological notions were commonly associated with the pre-Darwinian view that the biological realm provides evidence of conscious design by a supernatural creator. Even after creationist viewpoints were rejected by most biologists there remained various grounds for concern about the role of teleology in biology, including whether such terms are:
Opinions divide over whether Darwin's theory of evolution provides a means of eliminating teleology from biology, or whether it provides a naturalistic account of the role of teleological notions in the science. Many contemporary biologists and philosophers of biology believe that teleological notions are a distinctive and ineliminable feature of biological explanations but that it is possible to provide a naturalistic account of their role that avoids the concerns above. Terminological issues sometimes serve to obscure some widely-accepted distinctions.
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First published Wed Mar 20, 1996; substantive revision Sun May 18, 2003; see Stanford Archive: Teleological Notions in Biology.
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