The Anti-Conceptual Engineering Argument and the Problem of Implementation

American Philosophical Quarterly 61 (1):73-85 (2024)
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Abstract

Conceptual engineering concerns the assessment and improvement of our concepts. But how can proposals to engineer concepts be implemented in the real world? This is known as the implementation challenge to conceptual engineering. In this paper, I am concerned with the meta-philosophical implications of the implementation challenge. Specifically, must we overcome the implementation challenge prior to undertaking conceptual engineering? Some critics have recently answered this question affirmatively. I intend to show that they are mistaken. I argue as follows. First, successful implementation is not an integral part of conceptual engineering. Second, the idea that the value of conceptual engineering relies on successful implementation is in tension with widespread assumptions about normative theorizing.

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Steffen Koch
Bielefeld University

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