Saturday, October 23, 2010

Georgia Philosophical Society

Oglethorpe University, Atlanta, GA
Saturday, December 4, 2010

Beth Preston, UGA
‘Artifact’ as Artifact: A Category and Its Vicissitudes

There is increasing interest in artifacts among philosophers. The leading edge is the metaphysics of artifacts and artifact kinds. However, in all the excitement an important (and, one would think, prior) question has been neglected. What is the status of the category ‘artifact’ itself? Philosophers have taken its theoretical integrity and usefulness pretty much for granted. Dan Sperber argues against its integrity and usefulness for the purposes of naturalistic social science. However, Sperber’s argument does not take sufficient account of what categories are and how they function in human thought and action. Thus even if its conclusion is correct, his argument is not cogent. A different kind of argument is required. The purpose of this paper is to supply one, and then to deploy it to show that ‘artifact’ is not useful and does not have sufficient integrity for philosophical purposes either.

Papers on or related to the speaker's topic are especially encouraged
Papers must not exceed 3000 words
Graduate student submissions welcome
Blind review

November 17, 2010
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