What Topic Continuity Problem?

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy (2022)
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Abstract

A common objection to the very idea of conceptual engineering is the topic continuity problem: whenever one tries to “reengineer” a concept, one only shifts attention away from one concept to another. Put differently, there is no such thing as conceptual revision: there’s only conceptual replacement. Here, I show that topic continuity is compatible with conceptual replacement. Whether the topic is preserved in an act of conceptual replacement simply depends on what is being replaced (a conceptual tool or a conceptual role) and what the topic under discussion is. Thus, the topic continuity problem only arises from a failure to specify these two things.

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Alexander W. Kocurek
Cornell University

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