Artifact Categorization. Trends and Problems

Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (3):351-373 (2013)
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Abstract

The general question (G) How do we categorize artifacts? can be subject to three different readings: an ontological, an epistemic and a semantic one. According to the ontological reading, asking (G) is equivalent to asking in virtue of what properties, if any, a certain artifact is an instance of some artifact kind: (O) What is it for an artifact a to belong to kind K? According to the epistemic reading, when we ask (G) we are investigating what properties of the object we exploit in order to decide whether a certain artifact belongs to a certain kind. (G) thus becomes: (E) How can we know that artifact a belongs to kind K? Finally, (G) can also be read as a question concerning the semantics of artifact kind terms. The semantic reading of (G) is: (S) What kind of reference do artifact kind terms have, if any? In this editorial we expand on the different answers to (O), (E) and (S) that are given in the selected literature on the topic. The result should give us an overall picture of the possible answers to (G)

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Massimiliano Carrara
University of Padua