Engineering differences between natural, social, and artificial kinds

In Maarten Franssen, Peter Kroes, Pieter Vermaas & Thomas A. C. Reydon (eds.), Artefact Kinds: Ontology and the Human-made World. Synthese Library (2013)
  Copy   BIBTEX


My starting point is that discussions in philosophy about the ontology of technical artifacts ought to be informed by classificatory practices in engineering. Hence, the heuristic value of the natural-artificial distinction in engineering counts against arguments which favour abandoning the distinction in metaphysics. In this chapter, I present the philosophical equipment needed to analyse classificatory practices and then present a case study of engineering practice using these theoretical tools. More in particular, I make use of the Collectivist Account of Technical Artifacts (CAT) according to which there are different classificatory practices for natural, artificial, and social objects. I demonstrate that in the community studied, artificial kinds are marked by distinctive classificatory practices. The presence of these distinctive classificatory practices in engineering with regard to artificial kinds should inform discussions about the ontology of technical artifacts just as the distinctive classificatory practices in natural science inform discussions about natural kinds.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 86,336

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

The shrinking difference between artifacts and natural objects.Lynne Rudder Baker - 2008 - American Philosophical Association Newsletter on Philosophy and Computers.
Science, Technology and Experiments; The Natural versus the Artificial.Peter Kroes - 1994 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1994:431-440.
The Place of Engineering and the Engineering of Place.Gene Moriarty - 2000 - Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 5 (2):83-96.
Do the Life Sciences Need Natural Kinds?Thomas A. C. Reydon - 2009 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 9 (2):167-190.
Realism and human kinds.Amie L. Thomasson - 2003 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (3):580–609.
The Natural Shiftiness of Natural Kinds.Ronald de Sousa - 1984 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 14 (4):561 - 580.


Added to PP

28 (#467,919)

6 months
1 (#865,432)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Eric T. Kerr
National University of Singapore

Citations of this work

A Metaphysics of Artifacts: Essence and Mind-Dependence.Tim Juvshik - 2022 - Dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Add more citations

References found in this work

Philosophical Investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1953 - New York, NY, USA: Wiley-Blackwell.
How to do things with words.John Langshaw Austin - 1962 - Oxford [Eng.]: Clarendon Press. Edited by Marina Sbisá & J. O. Urmson.
After virtue: a study in moral theory.Alasdair C. MacIntyre - 1981 - Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press.
Fact, Fiction, and Forecast.Nelson Goodman - 1965 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

View all 212 references / Add more references