Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 505–519 | Cite as

Multiple realization in comparative perspective

  • Mark B. Couch


Arguments for multiple realization depend on the idea that the same kind of function is realized by different kinds of structures. It is important to such arguments that we know the kinds used in the arguments have been individuated properly. In the philosophical literature, though, claims about how to individuate kinds are frequently decided on intuitive grounds. This paper criticizes this way of approaching kinds by considering how practicing researchers think about the matter. I will consider several examples in which the practice of researchers on comparative vision conflicts with the standard account of these issues.


Comparative vision Functionalism Multiple realization Natural kinds Physiology 



For help with the ideas in this paper I’d like to thank Philip Kitcher, John Bickle, Bernie Berofsky, Ruth Millikan, Robert Richardson, Cory Wright, and an anonymous referee.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentSeton Hall UniversitySouth OrangeUSA

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