Of marigold beer: A reply to Vermaas and Houkes

Abstract
Vermaas and Houkes advance four desiderata for theories of artifact function, and classify such theories into non-intentionalist reproduction theories on the one hand and intentionalist non-reproduction theories on the other. They argue that non-intentionalist reproduction theories fail to satisfy their fourth desideratum. They maintain that only an intentionalist non-reproduction theory can satisfy all the desiderata, and they offer a version that they believe does satisfy all of them. I reply that intentionalist non-reproduction theories, including their version, fail to satisfy their first desideratum. Thus neither type of function theory satisfies all the desiderata. This suggests that the list of desiderata may well be inconsistent, and that ultimately we may have to decide whether to give up the first desideratum or the fourth one. I recommend giving up the fourth one on the grounds that this choice preserves the phenomenologically salient social aspects of artifact function. Vermaas and Houkes attempt to satisfy their desiderata Why this attempt fails What is to be done?
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Gualtiero Piccinini (2008). Computers. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 89 (1):32–73.
Sune Holm (2013). Organism and Artifact: Proper Functions in Paley Organisms. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):706-713.
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