Two Notions of Ecological Function

This paper discusses Millstein’s (2020) criticism of the consensus view formed against selected-effects ecological functions. I argue that Millstein’s defense of coevolution-based selected-effects ecological functions applies to a notion of function as an activity, whereas proponents of the consensus view are concerned with a notion of ecological function as the contribution of an organism, population, species, or abiotic item to the maintenance of its community and/or the functioning of its ecosystem. Millstein’s arguments hence do not invalidate the consensus view but draw attention to a notion of function that has been neglected in philosophical discussions and that deserves more attention.

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