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Fixing Language: An Essay on Conceptual Engineering

Oxford: Oxford University Press (2018)

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  1. The Practical Origins of Ideas: Genealogy as Conceptual Reverse-Engineering (Open Access).Matthieu Queloz - 2021 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Why did such highly abstract ideas as truth, knowledge, or justice become so important to us? What was the point of coming to think in these terms? This book presents a philosophical method designed to answer such questions: the method of pragmatic genealogy. Pragmatic genealogies are partly fictional, partly historical narratives exploring what might have driven us to develop certain ideas in order to discover what these do for us. The book uncovers an under-appreciated tradition of pragmatic genealogy which cuts (...)
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  • The phenomenon objection to conceptual engineering.Mark Pinder - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (11):3281-3305.
    Conceptual engineering is sometimes presented as an alternative to conceptual analysis. But one important objection to conceptual analysis threatens to carry across: that philosophy investigates phenomena—knowledge, truth, freedom, etc.—rather than concepts of those phenomena. This poses a prima facie problem insofar as conceptual engineering targets concepts or terms rather than phenomena. Call it the ‘phenomenon objection’. I begin by examining recent discussions of the phenomenon objection by Cappelen and Scharp, rejecting their responses. I then clarify and strengthen the objection, discussing (...)
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  • Irreducibly Collective Existence and Bottomless Nihilism.Jonas Werner - 2022 - Synthese 200 (2):1-16.
    This paper develops the metaphysical hypothesis that there are irreducibly collective pluralities, pluralities of objects that do not have a singular object among them. A way to formulate this hypothesis using plural quantification will be proposed and the coherence of irreducibly collective existence will be defended. Furthermore, irreducibly collective existence will be shown to allow for bottomless scenarios that do not involve things standing in relations of parthood. This will create logical space for an anti-atomistic form of mereological nihilism.
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  • The ‘niche’ in niche-based theorizing: much ado about nothing.Samantha Wakil & James Justus - 2022 - Biology and Philosophy 37 (2):1-21.
    The niche is allegedly the conceptual bedrock underpinning the most prominent, and some would say most important, theorizing in ecology. We argue this point of view is more aspirational than veridical. Rather than critically dissect existing definitions of the concept, the supposedly significant work it is thought to have done in ecology is our evaluative target. There is no denying the impressive mathematical sophistication and theoretical ingenuity of the ecological modeling that invokes ‘niche’ terminology. But despite the pervasive labeling, we (...)
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  • More Than Merely Verbal Disputes.Rogelio Miranda Vilchis - 2021 - Metaphilosophy 52 (3-4):479-493.
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  • Carnapian Explication and the Canberra Plan’s Conceptual Analysis.Rogelio Miranda Vilchis - 2019 - History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis 22 (1):160-179.
    Conceptual analysis has been typically recognized as a traditional methodology within analytic philosophy, but many philosophers have heavily criticized it. In contrast, the methodology of Carnapian explication has been undergoing a revival as a methodological alternative due to its revisionary aim. I will make explicit the shared structural properties and goals of Carnapian explication and the kind of conceptual analysis advanced by the advocates of the Canberra Plan. Also, I will argue that although their goal to make philosophy more scientific (...)
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  • Negotiating “women”: metalinguistic negotiations across languages.Knoll Viktoria - 2022 - Synthese 200 (4):1-20.
    The metalinguistic approach to conceptual engineering construes disputes between linguistic reformers and linguistic conservatives as metalinguistic disagreements on how best to use particular expressions. As the present paper argues, this approach has various merits. However, it was recently criticised in Cappelen’s seminal Fixing Language. Cappelen raises an important objection against the metalinguistic picture. According to this objection – the Babel objection, as I shall call it – the metalinguistic account cannot accommodate the intuition of disagreement between linguistic conservatives and reformers (...)
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  • Conceptual Engineering and Operationalism in Psychology.Elina Vessonen - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):10615-10637.
    This paper applies conceptual engineering to deal with four objections that have been levelled against operationalism in psychology. These objections are: operationalism leads to harmful proliferation of concepts, operationalism goes hand-in-hand with untenable antirealism, operationalism leads to arbitrariness in scientific concept formation, and operationalism is incompatible with the usual conception of scientific measurement. Relying on a formulation of three principles of conceptual engineering, I will argue that there is a useful form of operationalism that does not fall prey to these (...)
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  • Technology as Driver for Morally Motivated Conceptual Engineering.Herman Veluwenkamp, Marianna Capasso, Jonne Maas & Lavinia Marin - 2022 - Philosophy and Technology 35 (3):1-25.
    New technologies are the source of uncertainties about the applicability of moral and morally connotated concepts. These uncertainties sometimes call for conceptual engineering, but it is not often recognized when this is the case. We take this to be a missed opportunity, as a recognition that different researchers are working on the same kind of project can help solve methodological questions that one is likely to encounter. In this paper, we present three case studies where philosophers of technology implicitly engage (...)
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  • Communicating and Disagreeing with Distinct Concepts: A Defense of Semantic Internalism.Matheus Valente - 2019 - Theoria 85 (4):312-336.
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  • Experimental Aesthetics and Conceptual Engineering.Clotilde Torregrossa - forthcoming - Erkenntnis.
    Experimental Philosophy (X-Phi) is now a fully-fledged methodological project with applications in almost all areas of analytic philosophy, including, as of recently, aesthetics. Another methodological project which has been attracting attention in the last few years is conceptual engineering (CE). Its areas of implementation are now diverse, but as was the case initially with experimental philosophy, aesthetics has unfortunately been left out (or perhaps aestheticians have failed to pay attention to CE) until now. In this paper, I argue that if (...)
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  • Is Concept Appraisal Modulated by Procedural or Declarative Manipulations?Sapphira R. Thorne, Joulia Smortchkova, Jake Quilty-Dunn, Nicholas Shea & James A. Hampton - 2022 - Frontiers in Psychology 13.
    A recent study has established that thinkers reliably engage in epistemic appraisals of concepts of natural categories. Here, five studies are reported which investigated the effects of different manipulations of category learning context on appraisal of the concepts learnt. It was predicted that dimensions of concept appraisal could be affected by manipulating either procedural factors or declarative factors. While known effects of these manipulations on metacognitive judgements such as category learning judgements and confidence at test were replicated, procedural factors had (...)
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  • Moral Relativism, Metalinguistic Negotiation, and the Epistemic Significance of Disagreement.Katharina Anna Sodoma - 2021 - Erkenntnis 1:1-21.
    Although moral relativists often appeal to cases of apparent moral disagreement between members of different communities to motivate their view, accounting for these exchanges as evincing genuine disagreements constitutes a challenge to the coherence of moral relativism. While many moral relativists acknowledge this problem, attempts to solve it so far have been wanting. In response, moral relativists either give up the claim that there can be moral disagreement between members of different communities or end up with a view on which (...)
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  • Conceptual Cartography.Robert Smithson - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64 (1-2):97-122.
    ABSTRACT Certain features of our conceptual scheme seem necessary for subjects with our basic nature: we cannot imagine humans accomplishing their basic projects without having a conceptual scheme with these features. Other aspects of our conceptual scheme seem more contingent: we can imagine communities effectively using a somewhat different conceptual scheme. Conceptual cartography is the project of investigating the necessity and contingency of the various features of conceptual schemes. The project of conceptual cartography has not received much explicit methodological attention. (...)
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  • On the Pragmatics of Deep Disagreement.Matthew Shields - 2018 - Topoi (5):999-1015.
    In this paper, I present two tools that help shed light on deep disagreements and their epistemological consequences. First, I argue that we are best off construing deep disagreements as disagreements over conflicting understandings of certain concepts. More specifically, I suggest that deep disagreements are disagreements over how to understand concepts that play what Michael Friedman calls a “constitutive” role for speakers. Second, I argue that we need a better understanding of what speakers are doing when they engage in deep (...)
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  • Conceptual Change in Perspective.Matthew Shields - 2020 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 63 (9-10):930-958.
    I argue that Sarah Sawyer's and Herman Cappelen's recent accounts of how speakers talk and think about the same concept or topic even when their understandings of that concept or topic substantially diverge risk multiplying our metasemantic categories unnecessarily and fail to prove explanatory. When we look more closely at our actual practices of samesaying, we find that speakers with seemingly incompatible formulations of a subject matter take one another to samesay when they are attempting to arrive at a correct (...)
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  • Conceptual Domination.Matthew Shields - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):15043-15067.
    Implicit in much of the recent literature on conceptual engineering and conceptual ethics is the assumption that when speakers argue that we should talk or think about a concept in a specific way, they are doing so as inquirers—as speakers who are invested in arriving at the correct or best view of this concept. In this paper I question that assumption and argue that philosophers have been too quick to project idealized versions of themselves into the contexts of conceptual articulation (...)
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  • The Importance of Concepts.Sarah Sawyer - 2018 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 118 (2):127-147.
    Words change meaning over time. Some meaning shift is accompanied by a corresponding change in subject matter; some meaning shift is not. In this paper I argue that an account of linguistic meaning can accommodate the first kind of case, but that a theory of concepts is required to accommodate the second. Where there is stability of subject matter through linguistic change, it is concepts that provide the stability. The stability provided by concepts allows for genuine disagreement and ameliorative change (...)
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  • The Role of Concepts in Fixing Language.Sarah Sawyer - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (5):555-565.
    This is a contribution to the symposium on Herman Cappelen’s book Fixing Language. Cappelen proposes a metasemantic framework—the “Austerity Framework”—within which to understand the general phenomenon of conceptual engineering. The proposed framework is austere in the sense that it makes no reference to concepts. Conceptual engineering is then given a “worldly” construal according to which conceptual engineering is a process that operates on the world. I argue, contra Cappelen, that an adequate theory of conceptual engineering must make reference to concepts. (...)
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  • Truth and Objectivity in Conceptual Engineering.Sarah Sawyer - 2020 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 63 (9-10):1001-1022.
    Conceptual engineering is to be explained by appeal to the externalist distinction between concepts and conceptions. If concepts are determined by non-conceptual relations to objective properties rather than by associated conceptions (whether individual or communal), then topic preservation through semantic change will be possible. The requisite level of objectivity is guaranteed by the possibility of collective error and does not depend on a stronger level of objectivity, such as mind-independence or independence from linguistic or social practice more generally. This means (...)
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  • Concept Pluralism in Conceptual Engineering.Sarah Sawyer - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 1.
    In this paper, I argue that an adequate meta-semantic framework capable of accommodating the range of projects currently identified as projects in conceptual engineering must be sensitive to the fact that concepts (and hence projects relating to them) fall into distinct kinds. Concepts can vary, I will argue, with respect to their direction of determination, their modal range, and their temporal range. Acknowledging such variations yields a preliminary taxonomy of concepts and generates a meta-semantic framework that allows us both to (...)
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  • Modeling Intentional Agency: A Neo-Gricean Framework.Matti Sarkia - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):7003-7030.
    This paper analyzes three contrasting strategies for modeling intentional agency in contemporary analytic philosophy of mind and action, and draws parallels between them and similar strategies of scientific model-construction. Gricean modeling involves identifying primitive building blocks of intentional agency, and building up from such building blocks to prototypically agential behaviors. Analogical modeling is based on picking out an exemplary type of intentional agency, which is used as a model for other agential types. Theoretical modeling involves reasoning about intentional agency in (...)
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  • Taxonomizing Non-at-Issue Contents.Thorsten Sander - 2022 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 99 (1):50-77.
    The author argues that there is no such thing as a unique and general taxonomy of non-at-issue contents. Accordingly, we ought to shun large categories such as “conventional implicature”, “F-implicature”, “CI”, “Class B” or the like. As an alternative, we may, first, describe the “semantic profile” of linguistic devices as accurately as possible. Second, we may explicitly tailor our categories to particular theoretical purposes.
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  • Fregean Side-Thoughts.Thorsten Sander - 2021 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (3):455-471.
    ABSTRACT This paper offers a detailed reconstruction of Frege’s theory of side-thoughts and its relation to other parts of his pragmatics, most notably to the notion of colouring, to the notion of presupposition, and to his implicit notion of multi-propositionality. I also highlight some important differences between the subsemantic categories employed by Frege and those used in contemporary pragmatics.
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  • Deflating the Functional Turn in Conceptual Engineering.Jared Riggs - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):11555-11586.
    Conceptual engineers have recently turned to the notion of conceptual functions to do a variety of explanatory work. Functions are supposed to explain what speakers are debating about in metalinguistic negotiations, to capture when two concepts are about the same thing, and to help guide our normative inquiries into which concepts we should use. In this paper, I argue that this recent “functional turn” should be deflated. Contra most interpreters, we should not try to use a substantive notion of conceptual (...)
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  • Reinventing Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong.Michael Ridge - 2020 - Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 8 (4).
    I offer new arguments for an unorthodox reading of J. L. Mackie’s Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong, one on which Mackie does not think all substantive moral claims are false, but allows that a proper subset of them are true. Further, those that are true should be understood in terms of a “hybrid theory”. The proposed reading is one on which Mackie is a conceptual pruner, arguing that we should prune away error-ridden moral claims but hold onto those already free (...)
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  • Metalinguistic disputes, semantic decomposition, and externalism.Erich Rast - forthcoming - Linguistics and Philosophy:1-21.
    In componential analysis, word meanings are decomposed into other meanings, and semantic and syntactic markers. Although a theory of word meaning based on such semantic decompositions remains compatible with the linguistic labor division thesis, it is not compatible with Kripke/Putnam-style indexical externalism. Instead of abandoning indexical externalism, a Separation Thesis is defended according to which lexical meaning need not enter the truth-conditional content of an utterance. Lexical meaning reflects beliefs about word meaning shared in a speaker community, and these may (...)
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  • The Anti-Mechanist Argument Based on Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems, Indescribability of the Concept of Natural Number and Deviant Encodings.Paula Quinon - 2020 - Studia Semiotyczne 34 (1):243-266.
    This paper reassesses the criticism of the Lucas-Penrose anti-mechanist argument, based on Gödel’s incompleteness theorems, as formulated by Krajewski : this argument only works with the additional extra-formal assumption that “the human mind is consistent”. Krajewski argues that this assumption cannot be formalized, and therefore that the anti-mechanist argument – which requires the formalization of the whole reasoning process – fails to establish that the human mind is not mechanistic. A similar situation occurs with a corollary to the argument, that (...)
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  • Cognitive Structuralism: Explaining the Regularity of the Natural Numbers Progression.Paula Quinon - 2022 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 13 (1):127-149.
    According to one of the most powerful paradigms explaining the meaning of the concept of natural number, natural numbers get a large part of their conceptual content from core cognitive abilities. Carey’s bootstrapping provides a model of the role of core cognition in the creation of mature mathematical concepts. In this paper, I conduct conceptual analyses of various theories within this paradigm, concluding that the theories based on the ability to subitize, or on the ability to approximate quantities, or both, (...)
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  • The Points of Concepts: Their Types, Tensions, and Connections.Matthieu Queloz - 2019 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (8):1122-1145.
    In the literature seeking to explain concepts in terms of their point, talk of ‘the point’ of concepts remains under-theorised. I propose a typology of points which distinguishes practical, evaluative, animating, and inferential points. This allows us to resolve tensions such as that between the ambition of explanations in terms of the points of concepts to be informative and the claim that mastering concepts requires grasping their point; and it allows us to exploit connections between types of points to understand (...)
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  • Choosing Values? Williams Contra Nietzsche.Matthieu Queloz - 2021 - Philosophical Quarterly 71 (2):286-307.
    Amplifying Bernard Williams’ critique of the Nietzschean project of a revaluation of values, this paper mounts a critique of the idea that whether values will help us to live can serve as a criterion for choosing which values to live by. I explore why it might not serve as a criterion and highlight a number of further difficulties faced by the Nietzschean project. I then come to Nietzsche's defence, arguing that if we distinguish valuations from values, there is at least (...)
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  • Conceptual Engineering and the Politics of Implementation.Matthieu Queloz & Friedemann Bieber - 2021 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly (3):670-691.
    Conceptual engineering is thought to face an ‘implementation challenge’: the challenge of securing uptake of engineered concepts. But is the fact that implementation is challenging really a defect to be overcome? What kind of picture of political life would be implied by making engineering easy to implement? We contend that the ambition to obviate the implementation challenge goes against the very idea of liberal democratic politics. On the picture we draw, the implementation challenge can be overcome by institutionalizing control over (...)
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  • The Lycan–Stich Argument and the Plasticity of “Belief”.Krzysztof Poslajko - 2022 - Erkenntnis 87 (3):1257-1273.
    The aim of this paper is to argue against the claim that the term “belief”, as it functions in philosophical psychology, has natural-kind term semantics; this thesis is central to the famous Lycan–Stich argument against eliminative materialism. I will argue that the current debate concerning the discrepancy between the professed opinions and actions, especially the debate concerning the idea of aliefs, shows that the concept of belief is plastic and amenable to conceptual engineering. The plasticity and amenability to conceptual engineering (...)
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  • Content Internalism and Conceptual Engineering.Joey Pollock - 2020 - Synthese 198 (12):11587-11605.
    Cappelen proposes a radically externalist framework for conceptual engineering. This approach embraces the following two theses. Firstly, the mechanisms that underlie conceptual engineering are inscrutable: they are too complex, unstable and non-systematic for us to grasp. Secondly, the process of conceptual engineering is largely beyond our control. One might think that these two theses are peculiar to the Austerity Framework, or to metasemantic externalism more generally. However, Cappelen argues that there is no reason to think that internalism avoids either commitment. (...)
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  • Revision, Endorsement and the Analysis of Meaning.Paul-Mikhail Catapang Podosky & Kai Tanter - 2020 - Analysis 80 (4):693-704.
    Recently there has been much philosophical interest in the analysis of concepts to determine whether they should be removed, revised, or replaced. Enquiry of this kind is referred to as conceptual engineering or conceptual ethics. We will call it revisionary conceptual analysis. It standardly involves describing the meaning of a concept, evaluating whether it serves its purposes, and prescribing what it should mean. However, this stands in tension with prescriptivism, a metasemantic view which holds that all meaning claims are prescriptions. (...)
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  • Can Conceptual Engineering Actually Promote Social Justice?Paul-Mikhail Catapang Podosky - 2022 - Synthese 200 (2).
    This paper explores the question: What would conceptual engineering have to be in order to promote social justice? Specifically, it argues that to promote social justice, conceptual engineering must deliver the following: it needs to be possible to deliberately implement a conceptual engineering proposal in large communities; it needs to be possible for a conceptual engineering proposal to bring about change to extant social categories; it needs to be possible to bring a population to adopt a conceptual engineering proposal for (...)
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  • Normative Roles, Conceptual Variance, and Ardent Realism About Normativity.David Plunkett - 2020 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 63 (5):509-534.
    ABSTRACT In Choosing Normative Concepts, Eklund considers a “variance thesis” about our most fundamental normative concepts. This thesis raises the threat of an alarming symmetry between different sets of normative concepts. If this symmetry holds, it would be incompatible with “ardent realism” about normativity. Eklund argues that the ardent realist should appeal to the idea of “referential normativity” in response to this challenge. I argue that, even if Eklund is right in his core arguments on this front, many other important (...)
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  • Metalinguistic Negotiation and Speaker Error.David Plunkett & Tim Sundell - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64 (1-2):142-167.
    In recent work, we have argued that a number of disputes of interest to philosophers – including some disputes amongst philosophers themselves – are metalinguistic negotiations. Prima facie, many of these disputes seem to concern worldly, non-linguistic issues directly. However, on our view, they in fact concern, in the first instance, normative questions about the use of linguistic expressions. This will strike many ordinary speakers as counterintuitive. In many of the disputes that we analyze as metalinguistic negotiations, speakers might quite (...)
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  • The Austerity Framework and Semantic Normativity.Mark Pinder - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64 (1-2):123-141.
    According to Herman Cappelen’s Austerity Framework, conceptual engineering doesn’t involve concepts, and barely involves engineering. I begin by raising two objections to the Austerity Framework as it stands: the framework cannot account for important normative aspects of conceptual engineering; and it doesn’t give us an adequate response to Strawson-style objections that conceptual engineering serves only to change the subject. I then supplement the Austerity Framework with an account of semantic normativity, which builds on the speaker/semantic meaning distinction, and show that (...)
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  • Is Haslanger’s Ameliorative Project a Successful Conceptual Engineering Project?Mark Pinder - 2022 - Synthese 200 (4):1-22.
    Supporters of conceptual engineering often use Haslanger’s ameliorative project as a key example of their methodology. However, at face value, Haslanger’s project is no cause for optimism about conceptual engineering. If we interpret Haslanger as seeking to revise how people in general use and understand words such as ‘woman’, ‘man’, etc., then her project has been unsuccessful. And if we interpret her as seeking to reveal the meaning of those words, then her project does not involve conceptual engineering. I develop (...)
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  • Conceptual Engineering, Metasemantic Externalism and Speaker-Meaning.Mark Pinder - 2021 - Mind 130 (517):141–163.
    What is the relationship between conceptual engineering and metasemantic externalism? Sally Haslanger has argued that metasemantic externalism justifies the seemingly counterintuitive consequences of her proposed conceptual revisions. But according to Herman Cappelen, metasemantic externalism makes conceptual engineering effectively impossible in practice. After raising objections to Haslanger’s and Cappelen’s views, I argue for a very different picture, on which metasemantic externalism bears very little on conceptual engineering. I argue that, while metasemantic externalism principally operates at the level of semantic-meaning, we should (...)
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  • What is a Conspiracy Theory?M. Giulia Napolitano & Kevin Reuter - 2021 - Erkenntnis:1-28.
    In much of the current academic and public discussion, conspiracy theories are portrayed as a negative phenomenon, linked to misinformation, mistrust in experts and institutions, and political propaganda. Rather surprisingly, however, philosophers working on this topic have been reluctant to incorporate a negatively evaluative aspect when either analyzing or engineering the concept conspiracy theory. In this paper, we present empirical data on the nature of the concept conspiracy theory from five studies designed to test the existence, prevalence and exact form (...)
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  • Conceptual Engineering, Truth, and Efficacy.Jennifer Nado - 2019 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 7):1507-1527.
    Traditional views on philosophical methodology characterize our primary philosophical goal as production of a successful conceptual analysis. The notion of conceptual analysis, however, faces several challenges—from experimental philosophy to more traditional worries such as the paradox of analysis. This paper explores an alternate approach, commonly called conceptual engineering, which aims at recommending conceptual revisions. An important question for the conceptual engineer is as follows: what counts as a case of successful conceptual engineering? What sorts of revisions are permitted, and what (...)
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  • What is White Ignorance?Annette Martín - 2021 - Philosophical Quarterly 71 (4):pqaa073.
    In this paper, I identify a theoretical and political role for ‘white ignorance’, present three alternative accounts of white ignorance, and assess how well each fulfils this role. On the Willful Ignorance View, white ignorance refers to white individuals’ willful ignorance about racial injustice. On the Cognitivist View, white ignorance refers to ignorance resulting from social practices that distribute faulty cognitive resources. On the Structuralist View, white ignorance refers to ignorance that results as part of a social process that systematically (...)
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  • Anti-exceptionalism about logic as tradition rejection.Ben Martin & Ole Thomassen Hjortland - 2022 - Synthese 200 (2):1-33.
    While anti-exceptionalism about logic is now a popular topic within the philosophy of logic, there’s still a lack of clarity over what the proposal amounts to. currently, it is most common to conceive of AEL as the proposal that logic is continuous with the sciences. Yet, as we show here, this conception of AEL is unhelpful due to both its lack of precision, and its distortion of the current debates. Rather, AEL is better understood as the rejection of certain traditional (...)
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  • Beyond Categorical Definitions of Life: A Data-Driven Approach to Assessing Lifeness.Christophe Malaterre & Jean-François Chartier - 2019 - Synthese 198 (5):4543-4572.
    The concept of “life” certainly is of some use to distinguish birds and beavers from water and stones. This pragmatic usefulness has led to its construal as a categorical predicate that can sift out living entities from non-living ones depending on their possessing specific properties—reproduction, metabolism, evolvability etc. In this paper, we argue against this binary construal of life. Using text-mining methods across over 30,000 scientific articles, we defend instead a degrees-of-life view and show how these methods can contribute to (...)
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  • The Method of Cases’ Feet of Clay.Edouard Machery - 2022 - Analysis 82 (2):335-343.
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  • Responses to Herman Cappelen and Jennifer Nado.Edouard Machery - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (1):329-342.
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  • Understanding Race: The Case for Political Constructionism in Public Discourse.David Ludwig - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (4):492-504.
    The aim of this article is to develop an understanding-based argument for an explicitly political specification of the concept of race. It is argued that a specification of race in terms of hierarchical social positions is best equipped to guide causal reasoning about racial inequality in the public sphere. Furthermore, the article provides evidence that biological and cultural specifications of race mislead public reasoning by encouraging confusions between correlates and causes of racial inequality. The article concludes with a more general (...)
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  • How Race Travels. Relating Local and Global Ontologies of Race. Philosophical Studies.David Ludwig - 2018 - Philosophical Studies:1-22.
    his article develops a framework for addressing racial ontologies in transnational perspective. In contrast to simple contextualist accounts, it is argued that a globally engaged metaphysics of race needs to address transnational continuities of racial ontologies. In contrast to unificationist accounts that aim for one globally unified ontology, it is argued that questions about the nature and reality of race do not always have the same answers across national contexts. In order address racial ontologies in global perspective, the article develops (...)
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