Conceptual cartography

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64 (1-2):97-122 (2021)
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ABSTRACT Certain features of our conceptual scheme seem necessary for subjects with our basic nature: we cannot imagine humans accomplishing their basic projects without having a conceptual scheme with these features. Other aspects of our conceptual scheme seem more contingent: we can imagine communities effectively using a somewhat different conceptual scheme. Conceptual cartography is the project of investigating the necessity and contingency of the various features of conceptual schemes. The project of conceptual cartography has not received much explicit methodological attention. But in this paper, I argue that conceptual cartography has important implications for the study of conceptual engineering. I also provide a general framework for thinking about conceptual cartography.

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Robert Smithson
University of North Carolina at Wilmington


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