Proper function and recent selection

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


"Modern History" versions of the etiological theory claim that in order for a trait X to have the proper function F, individuals with X must have been recently favored by natural selection for doing F (Godfrey-Smith 1994; Griffiths 1992, 1993). For many traits with prototypical proper functions, however, such recent selection may not have occurred: traits may have been maintained due to lack of variation or due to selection for other effects. I examine this flaw in Modern History accounts and offer an alternative etiological theory, the Continuing Usefulness account, which appears to avoid such problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S210-S222
JournalPhilosophy of Science
Issue number3 SUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Philosophy
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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