Single Idea 16555

[catalogued under 14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / h. Explanations by function]

Full Idea

It is common to speak of functions as properties 'had by' entities, …but they should rather be understood in terms of the activities by virtue of which entities contribute to the workings of a mechanism.

Gist of Idea

Functions are not properties of objects, they are activities contributing to mechanisms


Machamer,P/Darden,L/Craver,C (Thinking About Mechanisms [2000], 3)

Book Reference

-: 'Philosophy of Science' [-], p.6

A Reaction

I'm certainly quite passionately in favour of cutting down on describing the world almost entirely in terms of entities which have properties. An 'activity', though, is a bit of an elusive concept.

Related Ideas

Idea 16553 Our account of mechanism combines both entities and activities [Machamer/Darden/Craver]

Idea 16554 Activities have place, rate, duration, entities, properties, modes, direction, polarity, energy and range [Machamer/Darden/Craver]