The bootstrapped artefact: a collectivist account of technological ontology, functions, and normativity

Abstract

In 2006, this journal addressed the problem of technological artefacts, and through a series of articles aimed at tackling the ‘dual nature of technical artefacts’, posited an understanding of these as constituted by both a structural and a functional component. This attempt to conceptualise artefacts established a series of important questions, concerning such aspects of material technologies as mechanisms, functions, human intentionality, and normativity. However, I believe that in establishing the ‘dual nature’ thesis, the authors within this issue focused too strongly on technological function. By positing function as the analytic axis of the ‘dual nature’ framework, the theorists did not sufficiently problematise what is ultimately a social phenomenon. Here I posit a complementary analytic approach to this problem; namely, I argue that by using the Strong Programme’s performative theory of social institutions, we can better understand the nature of material technologies. Drawing particularly from Martin Kusch’s work, I here argue that by conceptualising artefacts as artificial kinds, we can better examine technological ontology, functions, and normativity. Ultimately, a Strong Programme approach, constructivist and collectivist in nature, offers a useful elaboration upon the important question raised by the ‘dual nature’ theorists.Keywords: Technological artefacts; Dual nature; Technological functions; Normativity of artefacts; Performative theory of social institutions.

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References found in this work

The Dual Nature of Technical Artefacts.Peter Kroes & Anthonie Meijers - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):1-4.
Mechanistic Artefact Explanation.Jeroen de Ridder - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):81-96.
The Normativity of Artefacts.Maarten Franssen - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):42-57.
Knowledge of Artefact Functions.Wybo Houkes - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):102-113.

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Citations of this work

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.
Function by Agreement.Pablo Schyfter - 2015 - Social Epistemology 29 (2):185-206.

View all 9 citations / Add more citations