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Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology

Volume 13
Artefacts in Analytic Metaphysics

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Displaying: 1-10 of 23 documents


1. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 3
Mark Coeckelbergh The Public Thing: On the Idea of a Politics of Artefacts
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Is there a politics of artifacts, and if so, what does it mean? Defining the issue as a problem about the relation between the human and the non-human, I argue that our common philosophical concepts bar us from an adequate understanding of this problem. Using the work of Hannah Arendt and Bruno Latour, I explore an escape route that involves a radical redefinition of the social. But the cost of this solution is high: we would lose the metaphysical foundation for our belief in the absolute value and dignity of humans. We should pay that prize only if we gain a better understanding of what we are doing and what we want to do together – with things.
2. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 3
Tore Birkeland, Roger Strand How to Understand Nano Images
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Nanoscale objects are presented by ever more sophisticated pictures (nano images). There is a need to reflect on the status of such nano images, because the “seeing” involved is of a highly indirect kind. The aim of this paper is to complement existing philosophical critique of nano images with a scientific practitioner's perspective. First, we show some reasons to consider seeing and imaging as complex endeavours not only on the micro and nano scale, but also on the macro level. Secondly, we argue that practising scientists are not only accustomed to interpret pictures and other graphical presentations of data as being partial and simplified, but that simplification is deliberate and internal. Rather than requiring that “true” images have to be representational (Pitt 2004, Pitt 2005), the paper advocates for the fruitfulness of understanding and judging images by the amount and nature of the information they convey. Scientific literacy could be improved by creative development of visualization techniques, but also by improved public understanding of images and their correct and cautious interpretation.
3. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 3
George Teschner, Alessandro Tomasi Technological Paradigm in Ancient Taoism
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Heidegger, Winner, and Ellul's critiques of Western technology focus on a notion of efficiency that subordinates to itself all non-instrumental values. An alternative conception of efficiency is proposed based on the Taoist theory of non-action (wu-wei). The ancient Taoist text, The Chuang Tzu, reveals a type of efficiency that is effective, resourceful, and entrepreneurial. It is a form of action which has an intimate rather than alienated relation to technology, and which is sensitive to the ethical and aesthetic values that Heidegger and Ellul claim are excluded from the Western conception of efficiency.
4. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 3
Michael David Kirchhoff Material Agency: A Theoretical Framework for Ascribing Agency to Material Culture
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This article attempts to articulate a theoretical framework, the target of which is to systematically unearth the conditions validating the ascription of agency to material culture. A wide range of studies, located within the interdisciplinary field known as material culture studies, testify to and aim at (re)uniting the materials of material culture with the notion of agency. In this article the argument is advanced that material entities have agency only if two necessary conditions are met: an ontological condition (agency is an asymmetrical and relational category) and an epistemological condition (material entities mediate and transform human understanding). Hopefully, this way of approaching matters will help to establish a constructive framework for future debates.
5. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Wybo Houkes, Pieter E. Vermaas Artefacts in Analytic Metaphysics: Introduction
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6. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Lynne Rudder Baker The Metaphysics of Malfunction
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Any artefact – a hammer, a telescope, an artificial hip – may malfunction. Conceptually speaking, artefacts have an inherent normative aspect. I argue that the normativity of artefacts should be understood as part of reality, and not just “in our concepts.” I first set out Deflationary Views of artefacts, according to which there are no artefactual properties, just artefactual concepts. According to my contrasting view – the Constitution View – there are artefactual properties that things in the world really have. For example, there is a property of being a telephone per se; we apply our concept telephone to things that have that property. Things that have the property of being a telephone are constituted by, but not identical to, aggregates of particles. To be an artefact, an object must have an intended function, among other things. Telephones – in virtue of being the kind of objects that they are – are always subject to malfunction. And malfunctions, when they occur, are just as much part of the world as telephones are. The example of artefacts shows that what is in the world – what really exists – need not be “mind-independent” nor independent of our concepts.
7. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Marzia Soavi Antirealism and Artefact Kinds
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Many realists on kinds deem it highly controversial to consider artefact kinds real kinds on a par with natural ones. There is a built-in tendency in realism to conceive of artefact kinds as merely a conventional classification used for practical purposes. One can individuate three main different approaches characterizing real kinds and accordingly three different types of arguments against viewing artefact kinds as real kinds: the metaphysical, the epistemological and the semantic arguments. The aim of this contribution is to undermine the thesis that it is possible to trace a clear distinction between artefacts and natural kinds in each of these approaches. As a consequence there are no metaphysical, epistemological and semantic bases for claiming that artefact kinds as opposed to natural ones are not real kinds.
8. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Massimiliano Carrara Relative Identity and the Number of Artifacts
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Relativists maintain that identity is always relative to a general term (RI). According to them, the notion of absolute identity has to be abandoned and replaced by a multiplicity of relative identity relations for which Leibniz’s Law does not hold. For relativists RI is at least as good as the Fregean cardinality thesis (FC), which contends that an ascription of cardinality is always relative to a concept specifying what, in any specific case, counts as a unit. The same train of thought on cardinality and identity is apparent among those – Artifactualists – who take relative identity sentences for artifacts as the norm. The aim of this paper is (i) to criticize the thesis (T1) thatfrom FC it is possible to derive RI, and (ii) to explain why Artifactualists mistakenly believe that RI can be derived from FC. The misunderstanding derives from their assumption that the concept of artifact – like the concept of object – is not a sortal concept.
9. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Wybo Houkes, Pieter E. Vermaas Produced to Use: Combining Two Key Intuitions on the Nature of Artefacts
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In this paper we examine the possibilities of combining two central intuitions about artefacts: that they are functional objects, and that they are non-natural objects. We do so in four steps. First we argue that, contrary to common opinion, functions cannot be the cornerstone of a characterisation of artefacts. Our argument suggests an alternative view, which characterises artefacts as objects embedded in what we call use plans. Second, we show that this plan-centred successor of the function-focused view is at odds with the non-naturalness intuition. Third, we show that this intuition can be developed by defining artefacts as produced or human-made objects, but that the resulting definition might collapse into the plan-centred view, and has trouble distinguishing artefact types or kinds. Finally, we propose a division of labour between production and use plans: among objects in general, artefacts are distinguished as human-made objects; within the domain of artefacts, types or kinds are characterised by the use plans in which artefacts are embedded.
10. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Pawel Garbacz What is an Artefact Design?
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The paper contains a first order formal theory pertaining to artefact designs, designs which are construed as the results of designing activities. The theory is based on a minimal ontology of states of affairs and it is inspired by the ideas of the Polish philosopher Roman Ingarden. After differentiating the philosophical notion of design from the engineering notion of design specifications, I then go on to argue that the philosophical category of artefact designs may be compared with Ingarden’s category of intentional states of affairs. At least some artefacts are found to be determined by more than one design. I also show how this ontological framework allows for the distinction between artefact tokens and artefact types. That leads to a proposal on how to define a criterion of identity for artefact types. The proposed theory serves as a basis both for a better understanding of what artefacts are and for the construction of computer-readable models of design specifications.