The normativity of artefacts

Part of the distinction between artefacts, objects made by humans for particular purposes, and natural objects is that artefacts are subject to normative judgments. In this paper I investigate how such judgments fit into the domain of the normative in general and what the grounds for their normativity are. Taking as a starting point a general characterization of normativity proposed by Dancy, I argue how statements such as 'this is a good drill' or 'this drill is malfunctioning' can be seen to express normative facts, or the content of normative statements. Next this analysis is extended to show that not just statements that say that an artefact performs its function well or poorly, but all statements that ascribe a function to an artefact can be seen as expressing a normative fact. On this approach the normativity of artefacts is analyzed in terms of reasons on grounds of practical, and to a lesser extent theoretical, rationality. (edited)
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2005.12.006
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References found in this work BETA
Wybo Houkes (2006). Knowledge of Artefact Functions. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):102-113.
Jeroen de Ridder (2006). Mechanistic Artefact Explanation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):81-96.
Jonathan Dancy (2000). Should We Pass the Buck? Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 47:159-173.
Jonathan Dancy (2005). Should We Pass the Buck? In Toni Rønnow-Rasmussen & Michael J. Zimmerman (eds.), Recent Work on Intrinsic Value. Springer 33--44.

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Citations of this work BETA
Nir Fresco & Giuseppe Primiero (2013). Miscomputation. Philosophy and Technology 26 (3):253-272.
Gualtiero Piccinini (2008). Computers. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 89 (1):32–73.
Shane Epting (2016). The Moral Dimensions of Infrastructure. Science and Engineering Ethics 22 (2):435-449.
Wybo Houkes (2006). Knowledge of Artefact Functions. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):102-113.

View all 18 citations / Add more citations

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Martin Peterson (2011). Can Technological Artefacts Be Moral Agents? Science and Engineering Ethics 17 (3):411-424.
Ruth Chang (2009). Voluntarist Reasons and the Sources of Normativity. In David Sobel & Steven Wall (eds.), Reasons for Action. Cambridge University Press 243-71.
Ken O'Day (1998). Normativity and Interpersonal Reasons. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 1 (1):61-87.

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