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Function and Teleology

  1. David J Buller

Published Online: 19 APR 2001

DOI: 10.1038/npg.els.0003454



How to Cite

Buller, D. J. 2001. Function and Teleology. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 19 APR 2001


The biological concept of function appears teleological, implying goal directedness or purpose. Ever since the scientific revolution, however, teleology has appeared inconsistent with fundamental scientific principles. Philosophers of biology have attempted to explicate the concept of function so as to make it simultaneously teleological and scientifically acceptable.


  • function;
  • goal;
  • purpose;
  • teleology