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  1. The Mind as Neural Software? Understanding Functionalism, Computationalism, and Computational Functionalism.Gualtiero Piccinini - 2010 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (2):269-311.
    Defending or attacking either functionalism or computationalism requires clarity on what they amount to and what evidence counts for or against them. My goalhere is not to evaluatc their plausibility. My goal is to formulate them and their relationship clearly enough that we can determine which type of evidence is relevant to them. I aim to dispel some sources of confusion that surround functionalism and computationalism. recruit recent philosophical work on mechanisms and computation to shed light on them, and clarify (...)
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  • Reconstructing Design, Explaining Artifacts: Philosophical Reflections on the Design and Explanation of Technical Artifacts.G. J. De Ridder - unknown
    Philosophers of science have by and large neglected technology. In this book, I have tried to do something about this lacuna by analyzing a few aspects of technical artifacts from a philosophical angle. The project was part of the research program "The Dual Nature of Technical Artifacts" based at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. Technical artifacts are both plain physical objects and objects that have been purposefully made for a purpose; which is to say they have a physical (...)
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  • Functional Decomposition: On Rationality and Incommensurability in Engineering.D. Van Eck - unknown
    The concept of technical function is a key concept to describe technical artifacts and artifacts-to-be-designed. Engineers often give such descriptions in terms of functional decomposition models, which represent relationships between functions and sets of other functions. Despite the importance of the concept of function there is no consensus among engineers about its meaning. Models of functional decomposition are likewise conceptually divergent. Although this conceptual diversity hampers information exchange between engineers, they accept and maintain it. Engineers do not, by and large, (...)
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  • The Bootstrapped Artefact: A Collectivist Account of Technological Ontology, Functions, and Normativity.Pablo Schyfter - 2009 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 40 (1):102-111.
    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 (...)
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  • Coherence of Structural and Functional Descriptions of Technical Artefacts.Peter Kroes - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):137-151.
    Structural and functional descriptions of technical artefacts play an important role in engineering practice. A complete description of a technical artefact involves a description of both functional and structural features. Engineers, moreover, assume that there is an intimate relationship between the function and structure of technical artefacts and they reason from functional properties to structural ones and vice versa. This raises the question of how structural and functional descriptions are related. The kind of inference patterns that establish coherence between structural (...)
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  • The Normativity of Artefacts.Maarten Franssen - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):42-57.
    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 (...)
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  • Technical Functions: A Drawbridge Between the Intentional and Structural Natures of Technical Artefacts.Pieter E. Vermaas & Wybo Houkes - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):5-18.
    In this paper we present an action-theoretic account of artefact using and designing and describe our ICE-theory of function ascriptions to technical artefacts. By means of this account and theory we analyse the thesis of the dual nature of technical artefacts according to which descriptions of technical artefacts draw on structural and intentional conceptualisations. We show that the ascription of technical functions to technical artefacts can connect the intentional and structural parts of descriptions of artefacts, but also separate these parts. (...)
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  • The Physical Connection: Engineering Function Ascriptions to Technical Artefacts and Their Components.Pieter E. Vermaas - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):62-75.
    In this paper I evaluate the ICE-theory of function ascriptions to technical artefacts as proposed by Houkes and Vermaas, 2004a and Houkes and Vermaas, 2004b. This account adds non-structural concepts to functional description of artefacts, which are typically not employed by engineers when they ascribe functions to artefacts. The aim of this paper is to analyse to what extent the ICE-theory can reproduce the engineering view that artefacts have their functions in virtue of their physicochemical structure. It is shown that (...)
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  • Dual-Nature and Collectivist Frameworks for Technical Artefacts: A Constructive Comparison.Wybo Houkes, Peter Kroes, Anthonie Meijers & Pieter E. Vermaas - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (1):198-205.
    This paper systematically compares two frameworks for analysing technical artefacts: the Dual-Nature approach, exemplified by the contributions to Kroes and Meijers , and the collectivist approach advocated by Schyfter , following Kusch . After describing the main tenets of both approaches, we show that there is significant overlap between them: both frameworks analyse the most typical cases of artefact use, albeit in different terms, but to largely the same extent. Then, we describe several kinds of cases for which the frameworks (...)
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  • The Conceptual Elusiveness of Engineering Functions.Pieter E. Vermaas, Dingmar van Eck & Peter Kroes - 2013 - Philosophy and Technology 26 (2):159-185.
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  • A Pragmatic Account of Mechanistic Artifact Explanation.Jan De Winter - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (4):602-609.
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  • Computers.Gualtiero Piccinini - 2004 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 89 (1):32–73.
    I offer an explication of the notion of computer, grounded in the practices of computability theorists and computer scientists. I begin by explaining what distinguishes computers from calculators. Then, I offer a systematic taxonomy of kinds of computer, including hard-wired versus programmable, general-purpose versus special-purpose, analog versus digital, and serial versus parallel, giving explicit criteria for each kind. My account is mechanistic: which class a system belongs in, and which functions are computable by which system, depends on the system's mechanistic (...)
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  • 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.
    In 2006, in a special issue of this journal, several authors explored what they called the dual nature of artefacts. The core idea is simple, but attractive: to make sense of an artefact, one needs to consider both its physical nature—its being a material object—and its intentional nature—its being an entity designed to further human ends and needs. The authors construe the intentional component quite narrowly, though: it just refers to the artefact’s function, its being a means to realize a (...)
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  • Mechanistic Explanation in Engineering Science.Dingmar van Eck - 2015 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 5 (3):349-375.
    In this paper I apply the mechanistic account of explanation to engineering science. I discuss two ways in which this extension offers further development of the mechanistic view. First, functional individuation of mechanisms in engineering science proceeds by means of two distinct sub types of role function, behavior function and effect function, rather than role function simpliciter. Second, it offers refined assessment of the explanatory power of mechanistic explanations. It is argued that in the context of malfunction explanations of technical (...)
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  • A Refinement to the General Mechanistic Account.Eric Nelson Hatleback & Jonathan M. Spring - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9 (2):19.
    Phyllis Illari and Jon Williamson propose a formulation for a general mechanistic account, the purpose of which is to capture the similarities across mechanistic accounts in the sciences. Illari and Williamson extract insight from mechanisms in astrophysics—which are notably different from the typical biological mechanisms discussed in the literature on mechanisms—to show how their general mechanistic account accommodates mechanisms across various sciences. We present argumentation that demonstrates why an amendment is necessary to the ontology referred to by the general mechanistic (...)
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  • Function Ascription and Explanation: Elaborating an Explanatory Utility Desideratum for Ascriptions of Technical Functions.Dingmar van Eck & Erik Weber - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (6):1367-1389.
    Current philosophical theorizing about technical functions is mainly focused on specifying conditions under which agents are justified in ascribing functions to technical artifacts. Yet, assessing the precise explanatory relevance of such function ascriptions is, by and large, a neglected topic in the philosophy of technical artifacts and technical functions. We assess the explanatory utility of ascriptions of technical functions in the following three explanation-seeking contexts: why was artifact x produced?, why does artifact x not have the expected capacity to ϕ?, (...)
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  • The Conceptual Elusiveness of Engineering Functions. [REVIEW]Pieter E. Vermaas, Dingmar Eck & Peter Kroes - 2013 - Philosophy and Technology 26 (2):159-185.
    In this paper, we describe the conceptual elusiveness of the notion of function as used in engineering practice. We argue that it should be accepted as an ambiguous notion, and then review philosophical argumentations in which engineering functions occur in order to identify the consequences of this ambiguity. Function is a key notion in engineering, yet is used by engineers systematically in a variety of meanings. First, we demonstrate that this ambiguous use is rational for engineers by considering the role (...)
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