Conceptual Engineering as Concept Preservation

Ratio 33 (3):155-162 (2020)
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Abstract

In the burgeoning philosophical literature on conceptual engineering improving our concepts is typically portrayed as the hallmark activity of the field. However, Herman Cappelen has challenged the idea that we can know how and why conceptual changes occur well enough to actively intervene in revising our concepts; the mechanisms of conceptual change are typically inscrutable to us. If the ‘inscrutability challenge’ is correct, the practical aspect of conceptual engineering may seem to be undermined, but I argue that endorsing such pessimism would be a mistake. Even if the inscrutability challenge is correct, conceptual engineers often have good reasons to try to preserve existing concepts. I examine several cases where concept preservation is important and draw lessons about this activity for conceptual engineers.

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Author's Profile

Matthew Lindauer
Brooklyn College (CUNY)

Citations of this work

Conceptual Exploration.Rachel Etta Rudolph - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.

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