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Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology

Volume 13, Issue 2, Spring 2009
Artefacts in Analytic Metaphysics

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1. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Wybo Houkes, Pieter E. Vermaas Artefacts in Analytic Metaphysics: Introduction
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2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Ulrich Krohs Structure and Coherence of Two-Model-Descriptions of Technical Artefacts
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A technical artefact is often described in two ways: by means of a physicalistic model of its structure and dynamics, and by a functional account of the contributions of the components of the artefact to its capacities. These models do not compete, as different models of the same phenomenon in physics usually do; they supplement each other and cohere. Coherence is shown to be the result of a mapping of role-contributions on physicalistic relations that is brought about by the concept of function. It results a sandwich-like structure of the two models, which can be reconstructed as a two-sorted theory element.
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8. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
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12. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Val Dusek Engines of the Imagination: Renaissance Culture and the Rise of the Machine
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13. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 13 > Issue: 2
Qin Zhu Pragmatism as Post-postmodernism: Lessons from John Dewey
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