This book focuses on material culture as a subject of philosophical inquiry and promotes the philosophical study of material culture by articulating some of the central and difficult issues raised by this topic and providing innovative solutions to ...
Both biological traits and artifacts have proper functions. But accounts of proper function are typically based on the biological case. So adapting these accounts to the artifact case requires finding cultural analogues of biological concepts. This can go wrong in two ways. The biological concepts may not pick out either biological or cultural proper functions correctly; or they may have no cultural analogues. I argue that things have gone wrong in the first way with regard to selection and in the (...) second way with regard to fitness. Finally, I argue that the only way forward is to examine the phenomena of reproduction and use in material culture. -/- . (shrink)
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? (shrink)
Tool use rivals language as an important domain of cognitive phenomena, and so as a source of insight into the nature of cognition in general. But the favoured current definition of tool use is inadequate because it does not carve the phenomena of interest at the joints. Heidegger's notion of equipment provides a more adequate theoretical framework. But Heidegger's account leads directly to a non-individualist view of the nature of cognition. Thus non-individualism is supported by concrete considerations about the nature (...) of tools and tool use. (shrink)
Function theorists routinely speculate that a viable function theory will be equally applicable to biological traits and artifacts. However, artifact function has received only the most cursory scrutiny in its own right. Closer scrutiny reveals that only a pluralist theory comprising two distinct notions of function--proper function and system function--will serve as an adequate general theory. The first section describes these two notions of function. The second section shows why both notions are necessary, by showing that attempts to do away (...) with one of them fail. This demonstration draws on examples from the artifactual realm to motivate major points of the argument. The third section is an outline of artifact function. It confirms the conclusions of the second section, and also begins the task of describing some of the special features of artifact function needing accommodation within the general theory. (shrink)
Behaviorism and mentalism are commonly considered to be mutually exclusive and conjunctively exhaustive options for the psychological explanation of behavior. Behaviorism and mentalism do differ in their characterization of inner causes of behavior. However, I argue that they are not mutually exclusive on the grounds that they share important foundational assumptions, two of which are the notion of an innerouter split and the notion of control. I go on to argue that mentalism and behaviorism are not conjunctively exhaustive either, on (...) the grounds that dropping these common foundational assumptions results in a distinctively different framework for the explanation of behavior. This third alternative, which is briefly described, is a version of non-individualism. (shrink)
Intuitive conceptions guide practice, but practice reciprocally reshapes intuition. The intuitive conception of intelligence in AI was originally highly anthropocentric. However, the internal dynamics of AI research have resulted in a divergence from anthropocentric concerns. In particular, the increasing emphasis on commonsense knowledge and peripheral intelligence (perception and movement) in effect constitutes an incipient reorientation of intuitions about the nature of intelligence in a non-anthropocentric direction. I argue that this conceptual shift undermines Joseph Weizenbaum's claim that the project of artificial (...) intelligence is inherently dehumanizing. (shrink)