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)
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 13,009
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Jonathan Dancy (2000). Should We Pass the Buck? Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 47:159-173.
Wybo Houkes (2006). Knowledge of Artefact Functions. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):102-113.
Citations of this work BETA
Gualtiero Piccinini (2008). Computers. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 89 (1):32–73.
Krist Vaesen (2011). The Functional Bias of the Dual Nature of Technical Artefacts Program. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 42 (1):190-197.
Jeroen de Ridder (2006). Mechanistic Artefact Explanation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):81-96.

View all 16 citations

Similar books and articles
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.
Ken O'Day (1998). Normativity and Interpersonal Reasons. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 1 (1):61-87.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

11 ( #154,563 of 1,410,123 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

4 ( #57,890 of 1,410,123 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.