Artifacts

Edited by Nurbay Irmak (Bogazici University)
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Summary

One can divide the debates over the ontology of artifacts into two different questions: the existential question and the question about the nature of artifacts. The existential question is simply the question whether there are artifacts, or whether artifacts are among the constituents of reality. The following questions on the nature of artifacts are important to settle the existential question. Are artifacts mind-independent entities, and if not, does that make them less ‘real’ than natural kinds? Do artifacts have essential properties like their intended functions or the material that they are made out of? The answers to these questions are also significant for our theory of reference for artifactual kind terms. 

Key works For negative answers to the existential question on the grounds of parsimony, causal adequacy, and other metaphysical principles/virtues see VAN INWAGEN 1990Merricks 2001, and Sider 2001. Wiggins 2001, Baker 2007, Thomasson 2007, Elder 2004 and more recently Korman 2010 provide a very different kind of defenses for the existence of artifacts. For a discussion on the theory of reference for artifactual kind terms see Kornblith 1980, Schwartz 1977 and Thomasson 2003.
Introductions Hilpinen 1999 provides a very nice introduction to the philosophical problems surrounding artifacts, including ontological questions mentioned above. See also Korman 2011, though the scope of his article is wider than artifacts. Margolis & Laurence 2007 is a good collection for different theories of artifacts. 
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197 found
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1 — 50 / 197
  1. added 2020-04-27
    The Problem of Creation and Abstract Artifacts.Nurbay Irmak - forthcoming - Synthese:1-14.
    Abstract artifacts such as musical works and fictional entities are human creations; they are intentional products of our actions and activities. One line of argument against abstract artifacts is that abstract objects are not the kind of objects that can be created. This is so, it is argued, because abstract objects are causally inert. Since creation requires being caused to exist, abstract objects cannot be created. One common way to refute this argument is to reject the causal inefficacy of abstracta. (...)
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  2. added 2020-02-12
    Real Natures and Familiar Objects.Amie L. Thomasson - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (2):518-523.
    Crawford Elder’s Real Natures and Familiar Objects promises to give naturalistically inclined metaphysicians reason to accept an ontology that includes many common sense objects, including persons, organisms, and at least many artifacts, behaviors, customs, and so on. This is a brave book, running against the current of trends towards austerity in ontology, tackling centuries old problems about how modal facts may be empirically discovered, and defending a commonsense ontology from a strictly naturalistic approach rather than via traditional appeals to ordinary (...)
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  3. added 2020-02-07
    What Do We See in Museums?Graham Oddie - 2016 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 79:217-240.
    I address two related questions. First: what value is there in visiting a museum and becoming acquainted with the objects on display? For art museums the answer seems obvious: we go to experience valuable works of art, and experiencing valuable works of art is itself valuable. In this paper I focus on non-art museums, and while these may house aesthetically valuable objects, that is not their primary purpose, and at least some of the objects they house might not be particularly (...)
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  4. added 2019-11-02
    New Perspectives on Artifactual and Biological Functions.Marc Artiga - 2016 - Applied Ontology 11 (2):89-102.
    In this essay I introduce the question of artifactual functions in the context of the recent debate on the notion of function. I discuss some of the desiderata a satisfactory account should fulfill and compare them to the desiderata for a theory of biological functions. Finally, within this general framework, I briefly present the three papers included in this volume.
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  5. added 2019-10-08
    A Bundle Theory of Words.J. T. M. Miller - 2019 - Synthese:1-18.
    It has been a common assumption that words are substances that instantiate or have properties. In this paper, I question the assumption that our ontology of words requires posting substances by outlining a bundle theory of words, wherein words are bundles of various sorts of properties (such as semantic, phonetic, orthographic, and grammatical properties). I argue that this view can better account for certain phenomena than substance theories, is ontologically more parsimonious, and coheres with claims in linguistics.
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  6. added 2019-09-30
    Artifacts in Metaphysics.Amie Thomasson - 2009 - In Anthonie Meijers (ed.), Philosophy of Technology and Engineering Sciences. Elsevier/North Holland. pp. 191-212.
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  7. added 2019-09-28
    Artifact.Beth Preston - 2018 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  8. added 2019-09-28
    Artifacts.Maarten Franssen - 2013 - Oxford Bibliographies Online: Philosophy.
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  9. added 2019-06-06
    Cellular Dimensions and Cell Dynamics, or the Difficulty Over Capturing Time and Space in the Era of Electron Microscopy.Ariane Dröscher - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (4):395-402.
    The introduction of electron microscopy profoundly altered biomedical research, providing a tool for a more detailed but at the same time a spatially and temporally more restricted visual analysis. Examining the case study of Golgi apparatus research in the 1950s and 1960s, it will be shown how microscopists handled these challenges, and how these confrontations modified the general concept of cellular organization. This will also shed light on the artifact debate and on the question of scientific realism in the field (...)
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  10. added 2019-06-06
    An Ontology of Technology: Artefacts, Relations and Functions.Clive Lawson - 2008 - Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 12 (1):48-64.
    Ontology tends to be held in deep suspicion by many currently engaged in the study of technology. The aim of this paper is to suggest an ontology of technology that will be both acceptable to ontology’s critics and useful for those engaged with technology. By drawing upon recent developments in social ontology and extending these into the technological realm it is possible to sustain a conception of technology that is not only irreducibly social but able to give due weight to (...)
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  11. added 2019-06-06
    Knowledge of Artefact Functions.Wybo Houkes - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):102-113.
    I argue that technological functions warrant specific epistemological attention, which they have not received thus far. From a user’s perspective, knowledge about the possible functions of an artefact is not provided exclusively by beliefs about its physical characteristics; it is primarily provided by know-how related to its use. Analysing the latter shows that standards of practical and not just theoretical reasoning are involved. Moreover, knowledge of the function of artefacts is primarily based on testimony and a social division of labour (...)
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  12. added 2019-06-06
    Why is a Wing Like a Spoon? A Pluralist Theory of Function.Beth Preston - 1998 - Journal of Philosophy 95 (5):215.
    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 (...)
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  13. added 2019-06-06
    Some Issues in the Theory of Artifacts: Defining ‘Artifact’ and Related Notions.Randall R. Dipert - 1995 - The Monist 78 (2):119-135.
    I do not think that previous writing on artifacts has been satisfactory, for reasons that will become clear. This situation has only been slightly remedied, I believe, by works such as my Artifacts, Agency, and Art Works, Dipert, sometimes referred to here as “AAA.” At the same time, I believe that a general notion of artifact is crucial for philosophy: the concept of an artifact is a central piece of our conception of the world. One of the important projects in (...)
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  14. added 2019-06-05
    Handbook of Mereology.Stamatios Gerogiorgakis, Johanna Seibt & Guido Imaguire (eds.) - 2017 - Munich: Philosophia.
    The present volume is the first comprehensive reference work for research on part-whole relations. The Handbook of Mereology offers a wide scope, inclusive presentation of contemporary research on part-whole relations that draws out systematic, historical, and interdisciplinary trajectories, shows the subject’s fertility, and inspires future explorations. In particular, we want to impress that mereology is much more than the study of axiomatised systems. The relationship between part and whole is a basic schema of cognitive organisation that operates not only at (...)
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  15. added 2019-06-05
    X—Authors and Artifacts.Risto Hilpinen - 1992 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 93 (1):155-178.
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  16. added 2019-05-29
    Form, Matter, Substance. [REVIEW]Daniel Z. Korman - 2019 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
    In Form, Matter, Substance, Kathrin Koslicki articulates and defends her preferred brand of hylomorphism, weighing in on how we should conceive of the matter and the form of such compounds, and on how they can qualify as fundamental “substances” despite being ontologically dependent on their components. I review Koslicki’s principal claims and conclusions (§1), and then raise some concerns about her master argument for “individual forms” (§2) and her criticism of standard essentialist accounts of artifacts (§3).
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  17. added 2019-05-20
    Wie Aneignung durch Artefaktizität legitimierbar ist. Zu einer Artefakttheorie des originären Eigentumserwerbs materieller Sachen.Nicolas Kleinschmidt - 2017 - In Jürgen H. Franz & Kartsten Berr (eds.), Die Welt der Artefakte. Berlin, Deutschland: pp. 109-120.
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  18. added 2019-05-10
    The Metaphysics of Establishments.Daniel Z. Korman - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-15.
    I present two puzzles about the metaphysics of establishments (e.g., stores and restaurants). The first puzzle is that, while there is good reason to think that they are constituted by the buildings they occupy, there also is good reason to think that they can exist without being constituted by anything and that nothing that’s constituted can ever become unconstituted. The second is that, while there is good reason to think that they are material objects, there also is good reason to (...)
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  19. added 2019-03-26
    Disassembly and Destruction.Allan Hazlett - 2006 - The Monist 89 (3):418-433.
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  20. added 2019-03-21
    Hylomorphism Without Forms? A Critical Notice of Simon Evnine’s Making Objects and Events.Michael J. Raven - 2019 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (5):652-669.
    Simon Evnine’s Making Objects and Events: A Hylomorphic Theory of Artifacts develops amorphic hylomorphism. I critically discuss three of its main themes. One theme is its attempt to do the work of form without forms. A second theme is the requirement that hylomorphs have ‘metabolisms at work’. A third theme is the use of artifacts as the paradigms for hylomorphs. I will raise some criticisms of each of these themes. Although the themes might at first appear disconnected, I believe the (...)
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  21. added 2019-03-20
    A Formal Ontology of Artefacts.Gilles Kassel - 2010 - Applied Ontology 5 (3):223-246.
    This article presents a formal ontology which accounts for the general nature of artefacts. The objective is to help structure application ontologies in areas where specific artefacts are present - in other words, virtually any area of activity. The conceptualization relies on recent philosophical and psychological research on artefacts, having resulted in a largely consensual theoretical basis. Furthermore, this ontology of artefacts extends the foundational DOLCE ontology and supplements its axiomatization. The conceptual primitives are as follows: artificial entity, intentional production (...)
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  22. added 2019-03-03
    The Ship of Theseus Puzzle.David Rose, Edouard Machery, Stephen Stich, Mario Alai, Adriano Angelucci, Renatas Berniūnas, Emma E. Buchtel, Amita Chatterjee, Hyundeuk Cheon, In-Rae Cho, Daniel Cohnitz, Florian Cova, Vilius Dranseika, Angeles Eraña Lagos, Laleh Ghadakpour, Maurice Grinberg, Ivar Hannikainen, Takaaki Hashimoto, Amir Horowitz, Evgeniya Hristova, Yasmina Jraissati, Veselina Kadreva, Kaori Karasawa, Hackjin Kim, Yeonjeong Kim, Min-Woo Lee, Carlos Mauro, Masaharu Mizumoto, Sebastiano Moruzzi, Christopher Y. Olivola, Jorge Ornelas, Barbara Osimani, Alejandro Rosas, Carlos Romero, Massimo Sangoi, Andrea Sereni, Sarah Songhorian, Paulo Sousa, Noel Struchiner, Vera Tripodi, Naoki Usui, Alejandro Vázquez Del Vázquez Del Mercado, Giorgio Volpe, Hrag A. Vosgerichian, Xueyi Zhang & Jing Zhu - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy 3.
    Does the Ship of Theseus present a genuine puzzle about persistence due to conflicting intuitions based on “continuity of form” and “continuity of matter” pulling in opposite directions? Philosophers are divided. Some claim that it presents a genuine puzzle but disagree over whether there is a solution. Others claim that there is no puzzle at all since the case has an obvious solution. To assess these proposals, we conducted a cross-cultural study involving nearly 3,000 people across twenty-two countries, speaking eighteen (...)
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  23. added 2018-12-09
    On the Individuation of Words.J. T. M. Miller - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-10.
    The idea that two words can be instances of the same word is a central intuition in our conception of language. This fact underlies many of the claims that we make about how we communicate, and how we understand each other. Given this, irrespective of what we think words are, it is common to think that any putative ontology of words, must be able to explain this feature of language. That is, we need to provide criteria of identity for word-types (...)
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  24. added 2018-11-18
    Why Can’T I Change Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony?David Friedell - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (3):805-824.
    Musical works change. Bruckner revised his Eighth Symphony. Ella Fitzgerald and many other artists have made it acceptable to sing the jazz standard “All the Things You Are” without its original verse. If we accept that musical works genuinely change in these ways, a puzzle arises: why can’t I change Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony? More generally, why are some individuals in a privileged position when it comes to changing musical works and other artifacts, such as novels, films, and games? I give (...)
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  25. added 2018-10-15
    In Defense of Things: Archaeology and the Ontology of Objects.Bjørnar Olsen - 2010 - Altamira Press.
    This important work of archaeological theory challenges us to reconsider our ideas about the nature of things, past and present, arguing that objects themselves possess a dynamic presence that we must take into account if we are to understand the world we and they inhabit.
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  26. added 2018-07-14
    Saving the Ship.John Biro - 2017 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 13 (2):43-54.
    In defending the startling claim that that there are no artifacts, indeed, no inanimate material objects of the familiar sort, Peter van Inwagen has argued that truths about such putative objects can be paraphrased as truths that do not make essential reference to them and that we should endorse only the ontological commitments of the paraphrase. In this note I argue that the paraphrases van Inwagen recommends cannot meet his condition. Read one way, they lose us some truths. Read another, (...)
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  27. added 2018-07-04
    Form, Matter, Substance.Kathrin Koslicki - 2018 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    In _Form, Matter, Substance_, Kathrin Koslicki defends a hylomorphic analysis of concrete particular objects (e.g., living organisms). The Aristotelian doctrine of hylomorphism holds that those entities that fall under it are compounds of matter (hulē) and form (morphē or eidos). Koslicki argues that a hylomorphic analysis of concrete particular objects is well-equipped to compete with alternative approaches when measured against a wide range of criteria of success. A successful application of the doctrine of hylomorphism to the special case of concrete (...)
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  28. added 2018-06-01
    Necessity of Origins and Multi-Origin Art.Joshua Spencer & Chris Tillman - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (7):741-754.
    ABSTRACTThe Necessity of Origins is the thesis that, necessarily, if a material object wholly originates from some particular material, then it could not have wholly originated from any significantly non-overlapping material. Several philosophers have argued for this thesis using as a premise a principle that we call ‘Single Origin Necessity’. However, we argue that Single Origin Necessity is false. So any arguments for The Necessity of Origins that rely on Single Origin Necessity are unsound. We also argue that the Necessity (...)
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  29. added 2018-05-31
    Nanotechnology and Nature: On Two Criteria for Understanding Their Relationship.Gregor Schiemann - 2005 - Hyle 11 (1):77 - 96.
    Two criteria are proposed for characterizing the diverse and not yet perspicuous relations between nanotechnology and nature. They assume a concept of nature as that which is not made by human action. One of the criteria endorses a distinction between natural and artificial objects in nanotechnology; the other allows for a discussion of the potential nanotechnological modification of nature. Insofar as current trends may be taken as indicative of future development, nanotechnology might increasingly use the model of nature as a (...)
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  30. added 2018-05-13
    An Ontology of Words.Nurbay Irmak - 2019 - Erkenntnis 84 (5):1139-1158.
    Words are indispensable linguistic tools for beings like us. However, there is not much philosophical work done about what words really are. In this paper, I develop a new ontology for words. I argue that words are abstract artifacts that are created to fulfill various kinds of purposes, and words are abstract in the sense that they are not located in space but they have a beginning and may have an end in time given that certain conditions are met. What (...)
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  31. added 2018-04-18
    Object Constructivism and Unconstructed Objects.Justin Remhof - 2014 - Southwest Philosophy Review 30 (1):177-185.
    The paper responds to a common charge against constructivism about objects, the view that all objects are essentially socially constructed. The objection is that constructivism is false because there must exist unconstructed objects for there to be constructed objects. I contend that the worry is unsound because whatever exists fully independently of our activities cannot be an object.
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  32. added 2018-04-11
    Hypertext. Eine Schrift für vernetzte, dynamische Schreibmaschinen (1965).Christian Vater - 2017 - In Christian Vater, Ludger Lieb, Christian Witschel & Michaela Böttner (eds.), 5300 Jahre Schrift. Heidelberg: Wunderhorn. pp. 166-169.
  33. added 2018-01-18
    Embodied Semiotic Artefacts: On the Role of the Skin as a Semiotic Niche.Breno Bitarello & João Queiroz - 2014 - Technoetic Arts 12 (1):75-90.
    The skin can be described as a niche structured by semiotic artefacts (tattoos) that work as symbolic–indexical devices (dicisigns). New biocompatible technologies responsive to organic and environmental variations change the role of the skin as a semiotic niche. New devices are transforming the skin into a niche of interactive interfaces. In this article we introduce a variety of techno-scientific artefacts, which are readily available, and their main characteristics. We are interested in the recent proliferation of devices based on biotechnologies that (...)
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  34. added 2017-12-03
    Artefacts as Mere Illustrations of a Worldview.Terence Rajivan Edward - 2017 - Symposion: Theoretical and Applied Inquiries in Philosophy and Social Sciences 4 (2):241-244.
    This paper responds to an argument against a kind of anthropology. According to the argument, if the aim of anthropology is to describe the different worldviews of different groups, then anthropologists should only refer to material artefacts in order to illustrate a worldview; but the interest of artefacts to anthropology goes beyond mere illustration. This argument has been endorsed by key members of the ontological movement in anthropology, who found at least one of its premises in Marilyn Strathern’s writing.
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  35. added 2017-10-26
    The Machine Speaks Falsely.Allan Franklin - 2010 - Spontaneous Generations 4 (1):71-84.
    How can one determine if an experimental apparatus is giving an incorrect result, if it is speaking falsely? An interesting example of this occurred in the experimental investigation, in the early twentieth century, of the energy spectrum of electrons emitted in β decay. Meitner and her collaborators (1911), using photographic detection, found that all the electrons emitted by a single radioactive element were monoenergetic. Chadwick (1914), on the other hand, using either an ionization chamber or a Geiger counter, found a (...)
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  36. added 2017-09-25
    On the Ontology of the Sacred.Ray Younis - 2020 - London: Rowman & Littlefield.
    This book examines and clarifies the nature, meaning, significance, richness and vitality of the sacred, and several key theories of the sacred, in the context of theological and philosophical ontology.
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  37. added 2017-08-11
    Folk Teleology Drives Persistence Judgments.David Rose, Jonathan Schaffer & Kevin Tobia - forthcoming - Synthese:1-19.
    Two separate research programs have revealed two different factors that feature in our judgments of whether some entity persists. One program—inspired by Knobe—has found that normative considerations affect persistence judgments. For instance, people are more inclined to view a thing as persisting when the changes it undergoes lead to improvements. The other program—inspired by Kelemen—has found that teleological considerations affect persistence judgments. For instance, people are more inclined to view a thing as persisting when it preserves its purpose. Our goal (...)
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  38. added 2017-06-13
    Contrast and Constitution.Peter van Elswyk - 2018 - Philosophical Quarterly 68 (270):158-174.
    The pluralist about material constitution maintains that a lump of clay is not identical with the statue it constitutes. Although pluralism strikes many as extravagant by requiring distinct things to coincide, it can be defended with a simple argument. The monist is less well off. Typically, she has to argue indirectly for her view by finding problems with the pluralist's extravagance. This paper offers a direct argument for monism that illustrates how monism about material constitution is rooted in commonsense as (...)
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  39. added 2017-04-29
    Cultural Artefacts and Neglect of the Materials From Which They Are Made.Terence Rajivan Edward - 2017 - Abstracta 10:35-44.
    This paper discusses an explanation, offered by Tim Ingold, for why social and cultural anthropologists have so far paid little attention to the materials from which artefacts are composed. The explanation is that these anthropologists accept a certain argument. According to the argument, what an anthropologist should focus on when examining an artefact is the quality that makes it part of a culture, and this is not the materials from which the artefact is composed. I show that Ingold has not (...)
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  40. added 2017-04-06
    Heidegger's Metaphysics of Material Beings.Kris McDaniel - 2013 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (2):332-357.
    Heidegger distinguishes between things that are present-at-hand and things that are ready-to-hand. I argue that, in Heidegger, this distinction is between two sets of entities rather than between two ways of considering one and the same set of entities. I argue that Heidegger ascribes distinct temporal, essential, and phenomenological properties to these two different kinds of entities.
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  41. added 2017-02-14
    The Dysfunctionality of Everyday Things:-On Stress, Design and Artefacts.Sara Ilstedt Hjelm - forthcoming - Techne:: Design Wisdom.
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  42. added 2017-02-13
    Wearable Artefacts as Research Vehicles.Laura Beloff - 2010 - Technoetic Arts 8 (1):47-53.
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  43. added 2017-02-08
    Contemporary Engineering and the Metaphysics of Artefacts.Pieter E. Vermaas - 2009 - The Monist 92 (3):403-419.
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  44. added 2017-02-08
    Titles, Uses and Instructions of Use: The Status of Intention in Art and Artefacts.Philippe Huneman - 2007 - Facta Philosophica 9 (1):3-21.
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  45. added 2017-01-30
    A Possible Artifact in Electroencephalography.John L. Kennedy - 1959 - Psychological Review 66 (6):347-352.
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  46. added 2017-01-27
    Lebewesen Verstehen.Mathias Gutmann - 2014 - Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 62 (1):90-107.
    Artefacts are made whereas living entities generate themselves: the extent to which this distinction seems obvious is the extent to which it tends to transform the relation between living entities on the one hand and artefacts on the other into a contradiction, a tendency which in consequence conceals the intricate dialectics between φύσις and τέχνη.The aim of this paper is to develop the dialectical relations between life - in terms of living entities - and artefacts from a constructivist point of (...)
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  47. added 2017-01-25
    Insightful Thinking: Cognitive Dynamics and Material Artifacts.Evridiki Fioratou & Stephen J. Cowley - 2009 - Pragmatics and Cognition 17 (3):549-572.
    We trace how cognition arises beyond the skin. Experimental work on insight problem solving is used to examine how external artifacts can be used to reach the goal of assembling a `cheap necklace'. Instead of asking how insight occurs `in the head', our participants in Experiment 1 can either draw solution attempts or manipulate real objects . Even though performance with real chain links is significantly more successful than on paper, access to objects does not make this insight problem simple: (...)
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  48. added 2017-01-23
    Artifacts and Persons.Alfredo Lucero-Montano - 2003 - Philosophy Pathways 63.
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  49. added 2017-01-23
    On Semiotics Artefacts.Barbara L. Ginsburg - 1986 - Semiotics:191-204.
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  50. added 2017-01-22
    Art, Artifacts, and Regarded Intentions.Randall R. Dipert - 1986 - American Philosophical Quarterly 23 (4):401 - 408.
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