ArgLab • Permanent Seminar

Javier Gonzalez de Prado Salas

Regulation, selection and intentionality

Biological teleology (e.g. biological purposes and functions) is needed if we want to provide a naturalistic account of the goal-directed behavior of biological organisms. The most promising strategy for doing so is to appeal to selected-effects theories of teleology, according to which purposes are effects positively reinforced through selective processes. Most authors have focused on natural selection as the main source of biological teleology. Here, I want to explore an alternative path, by considering instead biological self-regulation, which can be seen as a form of selection widespread in the biological world. I will argue that self-regulation gives rise to a distinctive type of biological teleology, which plays a crucial role in our explanations of the goal-directedness and intentionality of organisms. It is by following goals given to themselves via their self-regulatory mechanisms that organisms can be said to cope intelligently with the world and to make sense of their surroundings. I will examine the relations of this approach to enactivism and teleosemantics.