chapter  12
Teleological explanation
Pages 14

In this chapter we shall be concerned with the nature and function of teleological explanations and in particular with the problem of whether laws of the physical sciences that govern inorganic matter are adequate to account for the behaviour of living organisms, the subject matter of the biological sciences, or whether laws of a fundamentally different kind are required. It has frequently been argued that human behaviour has certain essential characteristics such as that it is purposive, goal-directed or self-determined, which render a mechanistic account inappropriate. This has sometimes been the motivation for the postulation of teleological explanations of behaviour, explanations which make reference to an end or goal (from Greek telos meaning 'end') but there has been a good deal of controversy about the status of teleological explanations and about their relation to mechanistic ones. In addition, some of these apologias have not been very clearly expressed.