Cover of Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology
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Displaying: 41-42 of 42 documents


part 2: technological functions and normativity
41. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Jeroen De Ridder The (Alleged) Inherent Normativity of Technological Explanations
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Technical artifacts have the capacity to fulfill their function in virtue of their physicochemical make-up. An explanation that purports to explicate this relation between artifact function and structure can be called a technological explanation. It might be argued, and Peter Kroes has in fact done so, that there issomething peculiar about technological explanations in that they are intrinsically normative in some sense. Since the notion of artifact function is a normative one (if an artifact has a proper function, it ought to behave in specific ways) an explanation of an artifact’s function must inherit this normativity.In this paper I will resist this conclusion by outlining and defending a ‘buck-passing account’ of the normativity of technological explanations. I will first argue that it is important to distinguish properly between (1) a theory of function ascriptions and (2) an explanation of how a function is realized. The task of the former is to spell out the conditions under which one is justified in ascribing a function to an artifact; the latter should show how the physicochemical make-up of an artifact enables it to fulfill its function. Second, I wish to maintain that a good theory of function ascriptions should account for the normativity of these ascriptions. Provided such a function theory can be formulated — as I think it can — a technological explanation may pass the normativity buck to it. Third, to flesh out these abstract claims, I show how a particular function theory — to wit, the ICE theory by Pieter Vermaas and Wybo Houkes — can be dovetailed smoothly with my own thoughts on technological explanation.
42. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 10 > Issue: 1
Krist Vaesen How Norms in Technology Ought to Be Interpreted
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This paper defends the claim that there are — at least — two kinds of normativity in technological practice. The first concerns what engineers ought to do and the second concerns normative statements about artifacts. The claim is controversial, since the standard approach to normativity, namely normative realism, actually denies artifacts any kind of normativity; according to the normative realist, normativity applies exclusively to human agents. In other words, normative realists hold that only “human agent normativity” is a genuine form of normativity.I will argue that normative realism is mistaken on this point. I will mainly draw on material of Daniel Dennett and Philip Pettit to show that it makes sense to talk about artifactual normativity. We claim that this approach can also make sense of human agent normativity — or more specifically “engineer normativity”. Moreover, it avoids some of the problems formulated by opponents of normative realism. Thus I will develop a strategy which: (i) makes sense of artifactual normativity; and (ii) makes sense of “human agent normativity”, specifically “engineer normativity”.