Explanations of this type are termed functional explanations. The word explanation is applied because to the degree that we correctly understand the laws describing the behavior of a thing, we can predict "where" it will be in the future (the marble will fall through the hole). In some cases we have relatively strong confidence that we can correctly specify the function which relates the behavior to environmental changes and that by using that function we can predict where the future states of the behavior will be. It is only in this sense that can we know the "goal" of the behavior. While we can be satisfied that we understand something about the process and that we have in some way explained something when we can predict its end point, we cannot suggest that the prediction is the prior cause. Additionally, we rarely have sufficient knowledge of the end point or the functional relationship
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This note was uploaded on 11/09/2011 for the course PSY PSY2012 taught by Professor Scheff during the Fall '09 term at Broward College.