SOPhiA 2017

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Admitting Teleology in Nature: An Organizational View of Ecosystem Functions
(Philosophy of Science, English)

Ecologists ascribe functions to biotic and abiotic parts of ecosystems like bees, fires or beaver dams (Balvanera et al., 2005; Abades et al., 2014; Rosell et al., 2005). This practice looks ill-justfied. It is notably subject to the rebuke of teleology. Cooper (2016) made a review of the three main options to solve this issue: the systemic one, the selective one, and the organizational one. The systemic account of Cummins (1975) faces the difficulty that it underdetermines ecosystem functions. Hence, Odenbaugh (2010) adopts it and ascribes ecological functions to volcanoes and lightning---what ecologists don't do. The selective accounts is the main accounts for naturalizing biological teleology but they seem to don't apply to ecosystems because ecosystems don't reproduce and reproduction is a necessary condition for being selected (Lewontin, 1970). The solution of Bouchard and Dussault (2016) is to combine the forward-looking selective account of Bigelow and Pargetter (1987) and the redefinition of fitness as persistence of Bouchard (2008, 2011). Against this option, I defend like Nunes-Neto and al. (2014) the application to ecosystems of the organizational account of Mossio and al. (2009) according to which biological functions are constraints under closure. I actualize the work of Nunes-Neto and al. in using the definition of constraint given by Montévil and Mossio (2015) and in showing that this updated organizational account fits very well with the different kind of ecological functions, especially with functional ascriptions toward abiotic parts of ecosystems, without falling in panglossism. Volcanoes, clouds, and lightning are ecological constraints that are not under closure contrariwise beaver dams and fires, so the organizational account gives a good reason to recognize the activites of the latters as teleological and not the ones of the formers.

Chair: Birgit Benzing
Time: 16:15-16:45, 14 September 2017 (Thursday)
Location: SR 1.006

Victor Lefèvre 
(Pantheon-Sorbonne University, France)

PhD Candidate Institute of History and Philosophy of Sciences and Technology

My dissertation aims to show that ecological organicism contributed to the birth of ecosystem ecology, to formulate anew the hypothesis that ecosystems are organized beings, and to explore the epistemological and ethical implications of this hypothesis.

Testability and Meaning deco