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  1. Function and Use of Technical Artefacts: Social Conditions of Function Ascription.Marcel Scheele - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):23-36.
    It is argued that we cannot understand the notion of proper functions of artefacts independently of social notions. Functions of artefacts are related to social facts via the use of artefacts. The arguments in this article can be used to improve existing function theories that look to the causal history of artefacts to determine the function. A view that takes the intentions of designers into account to determine the proper function is both natural and often correct, but it is shown (...)
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  • 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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  • An Artifact is to Use: An Introduction to Instrumental Functions.Jesse Hughes - 2009 - Synthese 168 (1):179-199.
    Because much of the recent philosophical interest in functions has been motivated by their application in biology and other sciences, most of the ensuing discussions have focused on functional explanations to the neglect of the practical role of functional knowledge. This practical role is essential for understanding how users form plans involving artifacts. We introduce the concept of instrumental function which is intended to capture the features of functional claims that are relevant to practical—in particular, instrumental—reasoning. We discuss the four (...)
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  • Taking a Capability Approach to Technology and Its Design: A Philosophical Exploration.E. T. Oosterlaken - unknown
    What people are realistically able to do and be in their lives, their capabilities, are of central moral importance according to the capability approach of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum. Examples are the capabilities to be healthy or to be part of a community. The CA has become an influential normative framework for reflecting on justice, equality, well-being and development. In the past decades it has been successfully applied to areas such as education and health care. Only quite recently have (...)
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  • On Malfunctioning Software.Giuseppe Primiero, Nir Fresco & Luciano Floridi - 2015 - Synthese 192 (4):1199-1220.
    Artefacts do not always do what they are supposed to, due to a variety of reasons, including manufacturing problems, poor maintenance, and normal wear-and-tear. Since software is an artefact, it should be subject to malfunctioning in the same sense in which other artefacts can malfunction. Yet, whether software is on a par with other artefacts when it comes to malfunctioning crucially depends on the abstraction used in the analysis. We distinguish between “negative” and “positive” notions of malfunction. A negative malfunction, (...)
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  • The Bootstrapped Artefact: A Collectivist Account of Technological Ontology, Functions, and Normativity.Pablo Schyfter - 2009 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 40 (1):102-111.
    In 2006, this journal addressed the problem of technological artefacts, and through a series of articles aimed at tackling the ‘dual nature of technical artefacts’, posited an understanding of these as constituted by both a structural and a functional component. This attempt to conceptualise artefacts established a series of important questions, concerning such aspects of material technologies as mechanisms, functions, human intentionality, and normativity. However, I believe that in establishing the ‘dual nature’ thesis, the authors within this issue focused too (...)
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  • Mechanistic Artefact Explanation.Jeroen de Ridder - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):81-96.
    One thing about technical artefacts that needs to be explained is how their physical make-up, or structure, enables them to fulfil the behaviour associated with their function, or, more colloquially, how they work. In this paper I develop an account of such explanations based on the familiar notion of mechanistic explanation. To accomplish this, I outline two explanatory strategies that provide two different types of insight into an artefact’s functioning, and show how human action inevitably plays a role in artefact (...)
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  • Coherence of Structural and Functional Descriptions of Technical Artefacts.Peter Kroes - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):137-151.
    Structural and functional descriptions of technical artefacts play an important role in engineering practice. A complete description of a technical artefact involves a description of both functional and structural features. Engineers, moreover, assume that there is an intimate relationship between the function and structure of technical artefacts and they reason from functional properties to structural ones and vice versa. This raises the question of how structural and functional descriptions are related. The kind of inference patterns that establish coherence between structural (...)
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  • 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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  • Computers.Gualtiero Piccinini - 2004 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 89 (1):32–73.
    I offer an explication of the notion of computer, grounded in the practices of computability theorists and computer scientists. I begin by explaining what distinguishes computers from calculators. Then, I offer a systematic taxonomy of kinds of computer, including hard-wired versus programmable, general-purpose versus special-purpose, analog versus digital, and serial versus parallel, giving explicit criteria for each kind. My account is mechanistic: which class a system belongs in, and which functions are computable by which system, depends on the system's mechanistic (...)
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  • The Functional Bias of the Dual Nature of Technical Artefacts Program.Krist Vaesen - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (1):190-197.
    In 2006, in a special issue of this journal, several authors explored what they called the dual nature of artefacts. The core idea is simple, but attractive: to make sense of an artefact, one needs to consider both its physical nature—its being a material object—and its intentional nature—its being an entity designed to further human ends and needs. The authors construe the intentional component quite narrowly, though: it just refers to the artefact’s function, its being a means to realize a (...)
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  • The Moral Dimensions of Infrastructure.Shane Epting - 2016 - Science and Engineering Ethics 22 (2):435-449.
    Moral issues in urban planning involving technology, residents, marginalized groups, ecosystems, and future generations are complex cases, requiring solutions that go beyond the limits of contemporary moral theory. Aside from typical planning problems, there is incongruence between moral theory and some of the subjects that require moral assessment, such as urban infrastructure. Despite this incongruence, there is not a need to develop another moral theory. Instead, a supplemental measure that is compatible with existing moral positions will suffice. My primary goal (...)
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  • A Different Trolley Problem: The Limits of Environmental Justice and the Promise of Complex Moral Assessments for Transportation Infrastructure.Shane Epting - 2016 - Science and Engineering Ethics 22 (6):1781-1795.
    Transportation infrastructure tremendously affects the quality of life for urban residents, influences public and mental health, and shapes social relations. Historically, the topic is rich with social and political controversy and the resultant transit systems in the United States cause problems for minority residents and issues for the public. Environmental justice frameworks provide a means to identify and address harms that affect marginalized groups, but environmental justice has limits that cannot account for the mainstream population. To account for this condition, (...)
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  • Pluralism on Artefact Categories: A Philosophical Defence.Wybo Houkes & Pieter E. Vermaas - 2013 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (3):543-557.
    In this paper we use our work in the philosophy of technology to formulate a pluralist view on artefact categories and categorisation principles, as studied in cognitive science. We argue, on the basis of classifications derived by philosophical reconstruction, that artefacts can be clustered in more than one way, and that each clustering may be taken as defining psychological artefact categories. We contrast this pluralism with essentialism and super-minimalism on artefact categories and we argue that pluralism is coherent with experimental (...)
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  • The Ontology of Artefacts: The Hard Problem.Wybo Houkes & Anthonie Meijers - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):118-131.
    We examine to what extent an adequate ontology of technical artefacts can be based on existing general accounts of the relation between higher-order objects and their material basis. We consider two of these accounts: supervenience and constitution. We take as our starting point the thesis that artefacts have a ‘dual nature’, that is, that they are both material bodies and functional objects. We present two criteria for an adequate ontology of artefacts, ‘Underdetermination’ and ‘Realizability Constraints’ , which address aspects of (...)
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  • Natural Sources of Normativity.Wayne Christensen - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (1):104-112.
  • Functions as Based on a Concept of General Design.Ulrich Krohs - 2009 - Synthese 166 (1):69-89.
    Looking for an adequate explication of the concept of a biological function, several authors have proposed to link function to design. Unfortunately, known explications of biological design in turn refer to functions. The concept of general design I will introduce here breaks up this circle. I specify design with respect to its ontogenetic role. This allows function to be based on design without making reference to the history of the design, or to the phylogeny of an organism, while retaining the (...)
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  • Humanist and Nonhumanist Aspects of Technologies as Problem Solving Physical Instruments.Sadjad Soltanzadeh - 2015 - Philosophy and Technology 28 (1):139-156.
    A form of metaphysical humanism in the field of philosophy of technology can be defined as the claim that besides technologies’ physical aspects, purely human attributes are sufficient to conceptualize technologies. Metaphysical nonhumanism, on the other hand, would be the claim that the meanings of the operative words in any acceptable conception of technologies refer to the states of affairs or events which are in a way or another shaped by technologies. In this paper, I focus on the conception of (...)
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  • Miscomputation.Nir Fresco & Giuseppe Primiero - 2013 - Philosophy and Technology 26 (3):253-272.
    The phenomenon of digital computation is explained (often differently) in computer science, computer engineering and more broadly in cognitive science. Although the semantics and implications of malfunctions have received attention in the philosophy of biology and philosophy of technology, errors in computational systems remain of interest only to computer science. Miscomputation has not gotten the philosophical attention it deserves. Our paper fills this gap by offering a taxonomy of miscomputations. This taxonomy is underpinned by a conceptual analysis of the design (...)
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  • How Artefacts Influence Our Actions.Auke J. K. Pols - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (3):575-587.
    Artefacts can influence our actions in several ways. They can be instruments, enabling and facilitating actions, where their presence affects the number and quality of the options for action available to us. They can also influence our actions in a morally more salient way, where their presence changes the likelihood that we will actually perform certain actions. Both kinds of influences are closely related, yet accounts of how they work have been developed largely independently, within different conceptual frameworks and for (...)
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  • Technological Biology? Things and Kinds in Synthetic Biology.Pablo Schyfter - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 27 (1):29-48.
    Social scientific and humanistic research on synthetic biology has focused quite narrowly on questions of epistemology and ELSI. I suggest that to understand this discipline in its full scope, researchers must turn to the objects of the field—synthetic biological artifacts—and study them as the objects in the making of a science yet to be made. I consider one fundamentally important question: how should we understand the material products of synthetic biology? Practitioners in the field, employing a consistent technological optic in (...)
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