Technical Artefact Theories: A Comparative Study and a New Empirical Approach

Review of Philosophy and Psychology 11 (4):831-858 (2020)
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Abstract

Embracing an inter-disciplinary approach grounded on Gärdenfors’ theory of conceptual spaces, we introduce a formal framework to analyse and compare selected theories about technical artefacts present in the literature. Our focus is on design-oriented approaches where both designing and manufacturing activities play a crucial role. Intentional theories, like Kroes’ dual nature thesis, are able to solve disparate problems concerning artefacts but they face both the philosophical challenge of clarifying the ontological nature of intentional properties, and the empirical challenge of testing the attribution of such intentional properties to artefacts. To avoid these issues, we propose an approach that, by identifying different modalities to characterise artefact types, does not commit to intentional qualities and is able to empirically ground compliance tests.

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