2.68 Functions

Category: Philosophy of Science

Keywords: functions, function, millikan, string, design, functional, functioning, item, blood, heart, designed, selected, items, reproduction, efficiency

Number of Articles: 84
Percentage of Total: 0.3%
Rank: 90th

Weighted Number of Articles: 160.3
Percentage of Total: 0.5%
Rank: 87th

Mean Publication Year: 1987.1
Weighted Mean Publication Year: 1977.1
Median Publication Year: 1989
Modal Publication Year: 1977

Topic with Most Overlap: Evolutionary Biology (0.079)
Topic this Overlaps Most With: Mechanisms (0.0156)
Topic with Least Overlap: Formal Epistemology (0.00017)
Topic this Overlaps Least With: Frankfurt Cases (0.00035)

A scatterplot showing which proportion of articles each year are in the functionstopic. 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 1998 when 1.1% of articles were in this topic. The lowest value is in 1878 when 0.0% of articles were in this topic. The full table that provides the data for this graph is available in Table A.68 in Appendix A.

Figure 2.159: Functions.

A set of twelve scatterplots showing the proportion of articles in each journal in each year that are in the Functionstopic. 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 - 0.3%. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society - 0.2%. Ethics - 0.2%. Philosophical Review - 0.4%. Analysis - 0.5%. Philosophy and Public Affairs - 0.2%. Journal of Philosophy - 0.6%. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research - 0.4%. Philosophy of Science - 1.0%. Noûs - 0.5%. The Philosophical Quarterly - 0.4%. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science - 1.1%. The topic reaches its zenith in year 1998 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 1.1% of the articles. And it hits a minimum in year 1878 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 0.0% of the articles.

Figure 2.160: Functions articles in each journal.

Table 2.165: Characteristic articles of the functions topic.
Table 2.166: Highly cited articles in the functions topic.


The smallest of our topics, and a sign that at least in philosophy of biology, the model had to carve things really finely to come up with ninety topics. One of the big challenges with setting the number of topics is that a choice that ends up with a relatively natural division in some fields can produce a very coarse-grained, or, as in this case, a very fine-grained division in other fields. This probably could have been put together with work on mechanisms without a great deal of loss.

The thing that jumps out to me about this topic is how much impact it had on the citation measures. There are only eighty-four articles in the topic, so you’d expect only one to two to show up in the highly cited articles, but instead we get five. This is a measure of the influence of Ruth Millikan on philosophy, since so much of this topic is organized around her work.