2.38 Origins and Purposes

Category: Philosophy of Science/Metaphysics

Keywords: animals, cats, dog, teleology, cat, animal, ship, fish, tree, dogs, table, tables, wood, teleological, fido

Number of Articles: 96
Percentage of Total: 0.3%
Rank: 89th

Weighted Number of Articles: 169.1
Percentage of Total: 0.5%
Rank: 85th

Mean Publication Year: 1974.8
Weighted Mean Publication Year: 1969.7
Median Publication Year: 1982
Modal Publication Year: 1978

Topic with Most Overlap: Personal Identity (0.0444)
Topic this Overlaps Most With: Personal Identity (0.0198)
Topic with Least Overlap: Game Theory (0.00048)
Topic this Overlaps Least With: Liberal Democracy (0.00048)

A scatterplot showing which proportion of articles each year are in the origins and purposestopic. The x-axis shows the year, the y-axis measures the proportion of articles each year in this topic. There is one dot per year. The highest value is in 1879 when 4.5% of articles were in this topic. The lowest value is in 1899 when 0.1% of articles were in this topic. The full table that provides the data for this graph is available in Table A.38 in Appendix A.

Figure 2.93: Origins and purposes.

A set of twelve scatterplots showing the proportion of articles in each journal in each year that are in the Origins and Purposestopic. There is one scatterplot for each of the twelve journals that are the focus of this book. In each scatterplot, the x-axis is the year, and the y-axis is the proportion of articles in that year in that journal in this topic. Here are the average values for each of the twelve scatterplots - these tell you on average how much of the journal is dedicated to this topic. Mind - 0.7%. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society - 0.4%. Ethics - 0.2%. Philosophical Review - 0.5%. Analysis - 1.0%. Philosophy and Public Affairs - 0.2%. Journal of Philosophy - 0.6%. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research - 0.4%. Philosophy of Science - 0.3%. Noûs - 0.4%. The Philosophical Quarterly - 0.5%. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science - 0.4%. The topic reaches its zenith in year 1879 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 4.5% of the articles. And it hits a minimum in year 1893 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 0.1% of the articles.

Figure 2.94: Origins and purposes articles in each journal.

Table 2.81: Characteristic articles of the origins and purposes topic.
Table 2.82: Highly cited articles in the origins and purposes topic.


A tiny topic, but still one that seemed to need breaking up in order to categorise. The papers are mostly about origins and ends, which make sense as a unified category. But then it bifurcates into debates within metaphysics, primarily about essentialism and identity over time, and in philosophy of science, about the role of teleological reasoning.

There are only ninety articles here, so there isn’t a ton to say about them collectively. It was a little surprising to me that there isn’t a Kripke/Parfit-related bump in the 1970s for work on personal identity, especially since so much of the work is on origin essentialism. Part of the story is that there is a bit of work in the British journals on personal identity before the Kripke/Parfit boom, some of it inspired by Wiggins. And the topic is small enough that that’s enough to stop a huge rise once Kripkean and Parfittian theories of personal identity become prominent.