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  1. Conceptual Engineering, Metasemantic Externalism and Speaker-Meaning.Mark Pinder - forthcoming - Mind:fzz069.
    What is the relationship between conceptual engineering and metasemantic externalism? Sally Haslanger has argued that metasemantic externalism justifies the seemingly counterintuitive consequences of her proposed conceptual revisions. But according to Herman Cappelen, metasemantic externalism makes conceptual engineering effectively impossible in practice. After raising objections to Haslanger’s and Cappelen’s views, I argue for a very different picture, on which metasemantic externalism bears very little on conceptual engineering. I argue that, while metasemantic externalism principally operates at the level of semantic-meaning, we should (...)
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  • Talk and Thought.Sarah Sawyer - 2020 - In Alexis Burgess, Herman Cappelen & David Plunkett (eds.), Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 379-395.
    This paper provides an externalist account of talk and thought that clearly distinguishes the two. It is argued that linguistic meanings and concepts track different phenomena and have different explanatory roles. The distinction, understood along the lines proposed, brings theoretical gains in a cluster of related areas. It provides an account of meaning change which accommodates the phenomenon of contested meanings and the possibility of substantive disagreement across theoretical divides, and it explains the nature and value of conceptual engineering in (...)
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  • A Guided Tour Of Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics.David Plunkett & Herman Cappelen - 2020 - In Herman Cappelen, David Plunkett & Alexis Burgess (eds.), Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 1-26.
    In this Introduction, we aim to introduce the reader to the basic topic of this book. As part of this, we explain why we are using two different expressions (‘conceptual engineering’ and ‘conceptual ethics’) to describe the topics in the book. We then turn to some of the central foundational issues that arise for conceptual engineering and conceptual ethics, and finally we outline various views one might have about their role in philosophy and inquiry more generally.
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  • Conceptual Engineering: The Master Argument.Herman Cappelen - 2020 - In Herman Cappelen, David Plunkett & Alexis Burgess (eds.), Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    I call the activity of assessing and developing improvements of our representational devices ‘conceptual engineering’.¹ The aim of this chapter is to present an argument for why conceptual engineering is important for all parts of philosophy (and, more generally, all inquiry). Section I of the chapter provides some background and defines key terms. Section II presents the argument. Section III responds to seven objections. The replies also serve to develop the argument and clarify what conceptual engineering is.
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  • Neutralism and Conceptual Engineering.Patrick Greenough - forthcoming - In Alexis Burgess, Herman Cappelen & David Plunkett (eds.), Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Conceptual Engineering alleges that philosophical problems are best treated via revising or replacing our concepts (or words). The goal here is not to defend Conceptual Engineering but rather show that it can (and should) invoke Neutralism—the broad view that philosophical progress can take place when (and sometimes only when) a thoroughly neutral, non-specific theory, treatment, or methodology is adopted. A neutralist treatment of one form of skepticism is used as a case study and is compared with various non-neutral rivals. Along (...)
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  • Linguistic Interventions and Transformative Communicative Disruption.Rachel Katharine Sterken - 2020 - In Herman Cappelen, David Plunkett & Alexis Burgess (eds.), Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 417-434.
    What words we use, and what meanings they have, is important. We shouldn't use slurs; we should use 'rape' to include spousal rape (for centuries we didn’t); we should have a word which picks out the sexual harassment suffered by people in the workplace and elsewhere (for centuries we didn’t). Sometimes we need to change the word-meaning pairs in circulation, either by getting rid of the pair completely (slurs), changing the meaning (as we did with 'rape'), or adding brand new (...)
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  • On the Relation Between Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics.Alexis Burgess & David Plunkett - 2020 - Ratio 33 (4):281-294.
    In recent years, there has been growing discussion amongst philosophers about “conceptual engineering”. Put roughly, conceptual engineering concerns the assessment and improvement of concepts, or of other devices we use in thought and talk (e.g., words). This often involves attempts to modify our existing concepts (or other representational devices), and/or our practices of using them. This paper explores the relation between conceptual engineering and conceptual ethics, where conceptual ethics is taken to encompass normative and evaluative questions about concepts, words, and (...)
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  • Conceptual Ethics I.Alexis Burgess & David Plunkett - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (12):1091-1101.
    Which concepts should we use to think and talk about the world and to do all of the other things that mental and linguistic representation facilitates? This is the guiding question of the field that we call ‘conceptual ethics’. Conceptual ethics is not often discussed as its own systematic branch of normative theory. A case can nevertheless be made that the field is already quite active, with contributions coming in from areas as diverse as fundamental metaphysics and social/political philosophy. In (...)
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  • The Revisionist’s Rubric: Conceptual Engineering and the Discontinuity Objection.Michael Prinzing - 2018 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 61 (8):854-880.
    This paper is about conceptual engineering. Specifically, it discusses a common objection to CE, which I call the Discontinuity Objection. According to the Discontinuity Objection, CE leads to problematic discontinuities in subject and/or inquiry – making it philosophically uninteresting or irrelevant. I argue that a conceptual engineer can dismiss the Discontinuity Objection by showing that the pre-engineering concept persists through the proposed changes. In other words, the Discontinuity Objection does not apply if the proposal involves identity-preserving changes. Two existing views (...)
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  • Replacing Truth.Kevin Scharp - 2013 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press UK.
    Kevin Scharp proposes an original theory of the nature and logic of truth on which truth is an inconsistent concept that should be replaced for certain theoretical purposes. He argues that truth is best understood as an inconsistent concept, and proposes a detailed theory of inconsistent concepts that can be applied to the case of truth. Truth also happens to be a useful concept, but its inconsistency inhibits its utility; as such, it should be replaced with consistent concepts that can (...)
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  • Conceptual Engineering, Truth, and Efficacy.Jennifer Nado - 2019 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 7):1507-1527.
    Traditional views on philosophical methodology characterize our primary philosophical goal as production of a successful conceptual analysis. The notion of conceptual analysis, however, faces several challenges—from experimental philosophy to more traditional worries such as the paradox of analysis. This paper explores an alternate approach, commonly called conceptual engineering, which aims at recommending conceptual revisions. An important question for the conceptual engineer is as follows: what counts as a case of successful conceptual engineering? What sorts of revisions are permitted, and what (...)
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  • Engineering What? On Concepts in Conceptual Engineering.Steffen Koch - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):1955-1975.
    Conceptual engineers aim to revise rather than describe our concepts. But what are concepts? And how does one engineer them? Answering these questions is of central importance for implementing and theorizing about conceptual engineering. This paper discusses and criticizes two influential views of this issue: semanticism, according to which conceptual engineers aim to change linguistic meanings, and psychologism, according to which conceptual engineers aim to change psychological structures. I argue that neither of these accounts can give us the full story. (...)
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  • Conceptual Engineering for Mathematical Concepts.Fenner Stanley Tanswell - 2018 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 61 (8):881-913.
    ABSTRACTIn this paper I investigate how conceptual engineering applies to mathematical concepts in particular. I begin with a discussion of Waismann’s notion of open texture, and compare it to Shapiro’s modern usage of the term. Next I set out the position taken by Lakatos which sees mathematical concepts as dynamic and open to improvement and development, arguing that Waismann’s open texture applies to mathematical concepts too. With the perspective of mathematics as open-textured, I make the case that this allows us (...)
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  • How To Conceptually Engineer Conceptual Engineering?Manuel Gustavo Isaac - 2020 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1–24.
    Conceptual engineering means to provide a method to assess and improve our concepts working as cognitive devices. But conceptual engineering still lacks an account of what concepts are (as cognitive devices) and of what engineering is (in the case of cognition). And without such prior understanding of its subject matter, or so it is claimed here, conceptual engineering is bound to remain useless, merely operating as a piecemeal approach, with no overall grip on its target domain. The purpose of this (...)
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  • Disability Studies, Conceptual Engineering, and Conceptual Activism.Elizabeth Amber Cantalamessa - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64 (1-2):46-75.
    In this project I am concerned with the extent to which conceptual engineering happens in domains outside of philosophy, and if so, what that might look like. Specifically, I’ll argue that...
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  • Truth and Objectivity in Conceptual Engineering.Sarah Sawyer - 2020 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 63 (9-10):1001-1022.
    Conceptual engineering is to be explained by appeal to the externalist distinction between concepts and conceptions. If concepts are determined by non-conceptual relations to objective properties rather than by associated conceptions (whether individual or communal), then topic preservation through semantic change will be possible. The requisite level of objectivity is guaranteed by the possibility of collective error and does not depend on a stronger level of objectivity, such as mind-independence or independence from linguistic or social practice more generally. This means (...)
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  • Replacing Truth.Kevin Scharp - 2007 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 50 (6):606 – 621.
    Of the dozens of purported solutions to the liar paradox published in the past fifty years, the vast majority are "traditional" in the sense that they reject one of the premises or inference rules that are used to derive the paradoxical conclusion. Over the years, however, several philosophers have developed an alternative to the traditional approaches; according to them, our very competence with the concept of truth leads us to accept that the reasoning used to derive the paradox is sound. (...)
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  • The Role of Concepts in Fixing Language.Sarah Sawyer - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (5):555-565.
    This is a contribution to the symposium on Herman Cappelen’s book Fixing Language. Cappelen proposes a metasemantic framework—the “Austerity Framework”—within which to understand the general phenomenon of conceptual engineering. The proposed framework is austere in the sense that it makes no reference to concepts. Conceptual engineering is then given a “worldly” construal according to which conceptual engineering is a process that operates on the world. I argue, contra Cappelen, that an adequate theory of conceptual engineering must make reference to concepts. (...)
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  • The Importance of Concepts.Sarah Sawyer - 2018 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 118 (2):127-147.
    Words change meaning over time. Some meaning shift is accompanied by a corresponding change in subject matter; some meaning shift is not. In this paper I argue that an account of linguistic meaning can accommodate the first kind of case, but that a theory of concepts is required to accommodate the second. Where there is stability of subject matter through linguistic change, it is concepts that provide the stability. The stability provided by concepts allows for genuine disagreement and ameliorative change (...)
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