The shrinking difference between artifacts and natural objects

American Philosophical Association Newsletter on Philosophy and Computers (2008)
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Artifacts are objects intentionally made to serve a given purpose; natural objects come into being without human intervention. I shall argue that this difference does not signal any ontological deficiency in artifacts qua artifacts. After sketching my view of artifacts as ordinary objects, I’ll argue that ways of demarcating genuine substances do not draw a line with artifacts on one side and natural objects on the other. Finally, I’ll suggest that philosophers have downgraded artifacts because they think of metaphysics as resting on a distinction between what is “mind­independent” and what is “mind­ dependent.” I’ll challenge the use of any such distinction as a foundation for metaphysics.



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Lynne Rudder Baker
PhD: Vanderbilt University; Last affiliation: University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Citations of this work

Artifact Concept Pluralism.Alper Güngör - forthcoming - Dialectica.
Explaining essences.Michael J. Raven - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 178 (4):1043-1064.
Sortals.Richard E. Grandy - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The philosophy of computer science.Raymond Turner - 2013 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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