Verbal disputes and topic continuity

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Changing concepts comes with a risk of creating merely verbal disputes. Accounts of topic continuity (such as Herman Cappelen’s) are supposed to solve this problem. As this paper shows, however, no existing solution avoids the danger of mere verbalness. On the contrary, accounts of topic continuity in fact increase the danger of overlooking merely verbal disputes between pre- and post-ameliorators. Ultimately, this paper suggests accepting the danger of mere verbalness resulting from a change in topic as a downside of conceptual engineering. Changing the topic under discussion may be worth the risk, however, in many cases. In fact, this paper proposes that the main goal of conceptual engineering should be seen as changing topics for the better.
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Archival date: 2021-01-28
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