Artifact Categorization and the Modal Theory of Artifact Function

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Philosophers and psychologists widely hold that artifact categories – just like biological categories – are individuated by their function. But recent empirical findings in psychology question this assumption. My proposal is to suggest a way of squaring these findings with the central role function should play in individuating artifact categories. But in order to do so, we need to give up on the standard account of artifact function, according to which function is fixed by design, and replace it with a more context-sensitive account, according to which function attributions depend on the explanatory context and, as a result, categorization also depends on the explanatory context, just as the empirical findings from psychology suggest. I argue that the recent ‘modal theory of function’ originally proposed to explain biological function, is capable of providing such an account of artifact function
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Archival date: 2020-01-19
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