Deflating the functional turn in conceptual engineering

Synthese 199 (3-4):11555-11586 (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Conceptual engineers have recently turned to the notion of conceptual functions to do a variety of explanatory work. Functions are supposed to explain what speakers are debating about in metalinguistic negotiations, to capture when two concepts are about the same thing, and to help guide our normative inquiries into which concepts we should use. In this paper, I argue that this recent “functional turn” should be deflated. Contra most interpreters, we should not try to use a substantive notion of conceptual functions to handle various problems for conceptual engineering. The primary accounts of function appealed to by conceptual engineers, namely etiological and system functions, are not suited to handle many of the problems functions are supposed to handle, and it’s dubious whether any other account of function would do better. Instead of trying to use substantive functions to solve theoretical problems, we should deflate those problems themselves by focusing only on what matters to us, as speakers or theorists, in a given inquiry.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 83,948

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

What is Conceptual Engineering and What Should it Be?David Chalmers - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
In Defense of Conceptual Engineering.Steffen Koch - 2021 - Dissertation, Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Conceptual engineering, truth, and efficacy.Jennifer Nado - 2019 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 7):1507-1527.
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.
Broad-Spectrum Conceptual Engineering.Manuel Gustavo Https://Orcidorg Isaac - 2021 - Ratio: An International Journal for Analytic Philosophy 34 (4):286–302.
Conceptual change and conceptual engineering: the case of colour concepts.Lieven Decock - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64 (1-2):168-185.
What Should Conceptual Engineering Be All About?Isaac Manuel Gustavo - 2021 - Philosophia Philosophical Quarterly of Israel (5):1–13.
A Guided Tour Of Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics.Herman Cappelen & David Plunkett - 2020 - In Herman Cappelen, David Plunkett & Alexis Burgess (eds.), Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 1-26.


Added to PP

69 (#193,139)

6 months
16 (#90,489)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Jared Riggs
University of Toronto, St. George Campus

References found in this work

Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
The meaning of 'meaning'.Hilary Putnam - 1975 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 7:131-193.

View all 56 references / Add more references