Authors
Trystan S. Goetze
Harvard University
Abstract
Conceptual engineering is concerned with the improvement of our concepts. The motivating thought behind many such projects is that some of our concepts are defective. But, if to use a defective concept is to do something wrong, and if to do something wrong one must be in control of what one is doing, there might be no defective concepts, since we typically are not in control of our concept use. To address this problem, this paper turns from appraising the concepts we use to appraising the people who use them. First, I outline several ways in which the use of a concept can violate moral standards. Second, I discuss three accounts of moral responsibility, which I call voluntarism, rationalism, and psychologism, arguing that each allows us to find at least some cases where we are responsible for using defective concepts. Third, I answer an objection that because most of our concepts are acquired through processes for which we are not responsible, our use of defective concepts is a matter of bad luck, and not something for which we are responsible after all. Finally, I conclude by discussing some of the ways we may hold people accountable for using defective concepts.
Keywords conceptual engineering  ameliorative inquiry  moral responsibility  Angela Smith  George Sher
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DOI 10.1080/0020174x.2019.1658629
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References found in this work BETA

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Mind and World.John McDowell - 1994 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy.Bernard Williams - 1985 - Harvard University Press.
What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):323-354.

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Intuitions About Cases as Evidence (for How We Should Think).James Andow - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.

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