The physical connection: engineering function ascriptions to technical artefacts and their components

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):62-75 (2006)
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Abstract

In this paper I evaluate the ICE-theory of function ascriptions to technical artefacts as proposed by Houkes and Vermaas, 2004a and Houkes and Vermaas, 2004b. This account adds non-structural concepts to functional description of artefacts, which are typically not employed by engineers when they ascribe functions to artefacts. The aim of this paper is to analyse to what extent the ICE-theory can reproduce the engineering view that artefacts have their functions in virtue of their physicochemical structure. It is shown that this theory can reproduce this engineering view for components of artefacts but not for the artefacts themselves: engineers can ascribe functions to components on the basis of only the physicochemical structure of artefacts; but when engineers ascribe functions to artefacts as a whole, they have to consider explicitly the goals for which agents use artefacts and the actions that constitute this use.Keywords: Function theory; Technical artefacts; Components; Physics and chemistry; Engineering; Action theory

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Citations of this work

Computers.Gualtiero Piccinini - 2008 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 89 (1):32–73.
Knowledge of Artefact Functions.Wybo Houkes - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):102-113.
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.

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References found in this work

Functional Analysis.Robert Cummins - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.
The Teleological Notion of 'Function'.Karen Neander - 1991 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 69 (4):454 – 468.
Actions Versus Functions.Wybo Houkes & Pieter Vermaas - 2004 - The Monist 87 (1):52-71.
Mechanistic Artefact Explanation.Jeroen de Ridder - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):81-96.

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