We propose capability as a universal or type intermediate between function and disposition. A capability is a disposition in whose realization some organism or group of organisms has or had an interest. A function, on the view we are proposing, is a capability the possession of which is the rationale for the existence of its bearer. To say for example that a water pump has the function to pump water is to say that the pump exists because something was needed that would pump water. A water pump may have many capabilities, including: to be weatherproof, to run without lubricant, to be transportable, and so forth. But its function is to pump water. We focus here on capabilities possessed by humans – such as piano playing or language using – and we explore the relation between capabilities of these sorts and structures in the brain.
Alexander Anderson is a Philosophy PhD Candidate at the University at Buffalo specializing in Early Modern Philosophy and Applied Ontology. Alexander has worked with the Department of Defense on the cognitive processing ontology (CPO) as well as presented at the International Conference for Biomedical Ontologies (ICBO). In addition, Alexander spent 4 years working at Capital One using semantic ontology modeling on areas such as consumer privacy, financial transactions, and dataset and data model metadata.