The normativity of artefacts


Abstract
Part of the distinction between artefacts, objects made by humans for particular purposes, and natural objects is that artefacts are subject to normative judgements. A drill, say, can be a good drill or a poor drill, it can function well or correctly or it can malfunction. In this paper I investigate how such judgements fit into the domain of the normative in general and what the grounds for their normativity are. Taking as a starting point a general characterization of normativity proposed by Dancy, I argue how statements such as ‘this is a good drill’ or ‘this drill is malfunctioning’ can be seen to express normative facts, or the content of normative statements. What they say is that a user who has a desire to achieve a particular relevant outcome has a reason to use, or not to use, the artefact in question. Next this analysis is extended to show that not just statements that say that an artefact performs its function well or poorly, but all statements that ascribe a function to an artefact can be seen as expressing a normative fact. On this approach the normativity of artefacts is analyzed in terms of reasons on grounds of practical, and to a lesser extent theoretical, rationality. I close by investigating briefly to what extent reasons on moral grounds are, in the analysis adopted here, involved in the normativity of artefacts.Keywords: Artefact; Normativity; Instrumental reason; Practical rationality; Function; Use.
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2005.12.006
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References found in this work BETA

Mechanistic Artefact Explanation.Jeroen de Ridder - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):81-96.
Knowledge of Artefact Functions.Wybo Houkes - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):102-113.
Should We Pass the Buck?Jonathan Dancy - 2005 - In Toni Rønnow-Rasmussen & Michael J. Zimmerman (eds.), Recent Work on Intrinsic Value. Springer. pp. 33--44.

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Citations of this work BETA

Miscomputation.Nir Fresco & Giuseppe Primiero - 2013 - Philosophy and Technology 26 (3):253-272.
The Moral Dimensions of Infrastructure.Shane Epting - 2016 - Science and Engineering Ethics 22 (2):435-449.
Mechanistic Artefact Explanation.Jeroen de Ridder - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):81-96.
Knowledge of Artefact Functions.Wybo Houkes - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):102-113.

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