Erkenntnis:1-21 (forthcoming)

Steffen Koch
Bielefeld University
This paper argues for explanatory eliminativism about topics relative to the domain of conceptual engineering. It has become usual to think that topics serve an important explanatory role in theories of conceptual engineering, namely, to determine the limits of revision. I argue, first, that such limits can be understood either as the normative limits pertaining to the justification of conceptual engineering, as the metaphysical limits pertaining to the identity of the concepts in question, or as the terminological limits pertaining to usage of the original terminology. Second, I argue that the metaphysical reading is disputable as a theory of concepts and inconsequential for conceptual engineers, and that neither of the two leading accounts of topics that have been presented in the literature—the samesaying account and functionalism—determine the limits of revision in either of the two remaining senses. In the absence of more promising competitors, I conclude that there is no theoretical role for topics to play in theories of conceptual engineering. An upshot of my argument is that conceptual engineers should stop worrying about things like topic continuity, and instead shift their attention to the issues that really matter for justifying conceptual revisions or replacements, making terminological choices, and underpinning conceptual engineering with a theory of concepts.
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DOI 10.1007/s10670-021-00446-1
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References found in this work BETA

Functional Analysis.Robert Cummins - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.
Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 17 (2):278-279.
Verbal Disputes.David J. Chalmers - 2011 - Philosophical Review 120 (4):515-566.

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