Conceptual engineering and conceptual ethics are branches of philosophy concerned with questions about how to assess and ameliorate our representational devices (such as concepts and words). It's a part of philosophy concerned with questions about which concepts we should use (and why), how concepts can be improved, when concepts should be abandoned, and how proposals for amelioration can be implemented. Central parts of the history of philosophy have engaged with these issues, but the focus of this volume is on (...) applications to work in contemporary philosophy of language and mind, epistemology, gender and race theory, ethics, philosophy of science, and philosophical logic. This is the first volume devoted entirely to conceptual engineering and conceptual ethics. The volume explores the possibilities, benefits, problems, and applications of conceptual engineering and conceptual ethics. It consists of twenty chapters written by leading philosophers. (shrink)
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.
Conceptual engineering is thought to face an ‘implementation challenge’: the challenge of securing uptake of engineered concepts. But is the fact that implementation is challenging really a defect to be overcome? What kind of picture of political life would be implied by making engineering easy to implement? We contend that the ambition to obviate the implementation challenge goes against the very idea of liberal democratic politics. On the picture we draw, the implementation challenge can be overcome by institutionalizing (...) control over conceptual uptake, and there are contexts—such as professions that depend on coordinated conceptual innovation—in which there are good reasons to institutionalize control in this fashion. But the liberal fear of this power to control conceptual uptake ending up in the wrong hands, combined with the democratic demand for freedom of thought as a precondition of genuine consent, yields a liberal democratic rationale for keeping implementation challenging. (shrink)
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. Instead, I propose and defend the Dual Content View of Conceptual Engineering. On this view, conceptual engineering targets concepts, where concepts are understood as having two kinds of contents: referential content and cognitive content. I show that this view is independently plausible and that it gives us a comprehensive account of conceptual engineering that helps to make progress on some of the most difficult problems surrounding conceptual engineering. (shrink)
This book helps engineering students carry over their natural analytical talents into a new area - moral deliberation. It shows them the importance of being analytical by stressing that many apparent moral disagreements are really disagreements over the facts or over the definitions of crucial terms, and that the locus of moral disagreement can only be discovered by analysis. Since engineers are interested in real-world problems, the text catches the attention of students in the field by focusing on cases (...) that hit the front pages of newspapers as well as those more typical of the sort they are likely to encounter in their own careers. (shrink)
Conceptual engineers seek to revise or replace the devices we use to speak and think. If this amounts to an effort to change what natural language expressions mean, conceptual engineers will have a hard time. It is largely unfeasible to change the meaning of e.g. ‘cause’ in English. Conceptual engineers may therefore seem unable to make the changes they aim to make. This is what I call ‘the implementation problem’. In this paper, I argue that the implementation problem dissolves if (...) we expand our view of how conceptual engineers could implement the products of their work. I describe four implementation options: Standing Meaning, Meaning Modulation, Speaker-Meaning and Different Language. I query the feasibility and worth of pursuing these options. Unless each option fails because it is unfeasible or not worthwhile, conceptual engineers do not face an implementation problem worth worrying about. I argue that some of the options are feasible and worthwhile, and therefore, that conceptual engineers do not face an implementation problem worth worrying about. (shrink)
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 understand conceptual engineering to operate largely at the level of speaker-meaning. This ‘Speaker-Meaning Picture’ has two key benefits. Firstly, it makes conceptual engineering often easy in practice. Secondly, it suggests a new, normative response to the well known objection that conceptual engineering serves only to change the subject. (shrink)
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 sorts are too revisionary? In this paper I examine ‘functional’ approaches to conceptual engineering, ultimately arguing for a ‘radical’ functionalism according to which even revisions which ‘change the subject’ are permitted, and successful re-engineering is constrained only by the requirement that continuity in needed functions of a pre-engineering concept be maintained somewhere in the postengineering conceptual scheme. I further argue that this approach suggests a heightened role, in metaphilosophical discourse, for a neglected epistemic goal—conceptual efficacy. (shrink)
Every day, new warnings emerge about artificial intelligence rebelling against us. All the while, a more immediate dilemma flies under the radar. Have forces been unleashed that are thrusting humanity down an ill-advised path, one that's increasingly making us behave like simple machines? In this wide-reaching, interdisciplinary book, Brett Frischmann and Evan Selinger examine what's happening to our lives as society embraces big data, predictive analytics, and smart environments. They explain how the goal of designing programmable worlds goes hand in (...) hand with engineering predictable and programmable people. Detailing new frameworks, provocative case studies, and mind-blowing thought experiments, Frischmann and Selinger reveal hidden connections between fitness trackers, electronic contracts, social media platforms, robotic companions, fake news, autonomous cars, and more. This powerful analysis should be read by anyone interested in understanding exactly how technology threatens the future of our society, and what we can do now to build something better. (shrink)
This paper investigates the connection between two recent trends in philosophy: higher-orderism and conceptual engineering. Higher-orderists use higher-order quantifiers (in particular quantifiers binding variables that occupy the syntactic positions of predicates) to express certain key metaphysical doctrines, such as the claim that there are properties. I argue that, on a natural construal, the higher-orderist approach involves an engineering project concerning, among others, the concept of existence. I distinguish between a modest construal of this project, on which it aims (...) at engineering higher-order analogues of the familiar notion of first-order existence, and an ambitious construal, on which it additionally aims at engineering a broadened notion of existence that subsumes first-order and higher-order existence. After identifying a substantial problem for the ambitious project, I investigate a possible response which is based on adopting a cumulative type theory as the background higher-order logic. While effective against the problem at hand, this strategy turns out to undermine a major reason to embrace higher-orderism in the first place, namely the idea that higher-orderism dissolves a range of otherwise intractable debates in metaphysics. Higher-orderists are therefore best advised to pursue their engineering project on the modest variant and against the background of standard type theory. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Conceptual engineering aims to improve our concepts. That's plausibly an extremely difficult thing to do. Should this make us sceptical of the idea that philosophers should try to do it? You might think so. Cappelen, in his Fixing Language: an Essay on Conceptual Engineering, thinks it shouldn't stop us – but his stated reasons are not really encouraging. In this paper, I say what I think Cappelen should have said, on the basis of a very rough cost-benefit (...) analysis. (shrink)
Engineers are normally seen as the archetype of people who make decisions in a rational and quantitative way. However, technological design is not value neutral. The way a technology is designed determines its possibilities, which can, for better or for worse, have consequences for human wellbeing. This leads various scholars to the claim that engineers should explicitly take into account ethical considerations. They are at the cradle of new technological developments and can thereby influence the possible risks and benefits more (...) directly than anybody else. I have argued elsewhere that emotions are an indispensable source of ethical insight into ethical aspects of risk. In this paper I will argue that this means that engineers should also include emotional reflection into their work. This requires a new understanding of the competencies of engineers: they should not be unemotional calculators; quite the opposite, they should work to cultivate their moral emotions and sensitivity, in order to be engaged in morally responsible engineering. (shrink)
The convergence of computing, sensing, and communication technology will soon permit large-scale deployment of self-driving vehicles. This will in turn permit a radical transformation of traffic control technology. This paper makes a case for the importance of addressing questions of social justice in this transformation, and sketches a preliminary framework for doing so. We explain how new forms of traffic control technology have potential implications for several dimensions of social justice, including safety, sustainability, privacy, efficiency, and equal access. Our central (...) focus is on efficiency and equal access as desiderata for traffic control design. We explain the limitations of conventional traffic control in meeting these desiderata, and sketch a preliminary vision for a next-generation traffic control tailored to address better the demands of social justice. One component of this vision is cooperative, hierarchically distributed self-organization among vehicles. Another component of this vision is a priority system enabling selection of priority levels by the user for each vehicle trip in the network, based on the supporting structure of non-monetary credits. (shrink)
Conceptual engineering is now a central topic in contemporary philosophy. Just 4-5 years ago it wasn’t. People were then engaged in the engineering of various philosophical concepts (in various sub-disciplines), but typically not self-consciously so. Qua philosophical method, conceptual engineering was under-explored, often ignored, and poorly understood. In my lifetime, I have never seen interest in a philosophical topic grow with such explosive intensity. The sociology behind this is fascinating and no doubt immensely complex (and an excellent (...) case study for those interested in the dynamics of academic disciplines). That topic, however, will have to wait for another occasion. Suffice it to say that if Fixing Language (FL) contributed even a little bit to this change of focus in philosophical methodology, it would have achieved one of its central goals. In that connection, it is encouraging that the papers in this symposium are in fundamental agreement about the significance and centrality of conceptual engineering to philosophy. That said, the goal of FL was not only to advocate for a topic, but also to defend a particular approach to it: The Austerity Framework. These replies have helped me see clearer the limitations of that view and points where my presentation was suboptimal. The responses below are in part a reconstruction of what I had in mind while writing the book and in part an effort to ameliorate. I’m grateful to the symposiasts for helping me get a better grip on these very hard issues. (shrink)
Engineering ethics is usually focused on engineers’ ethics, engineers acting as individuals. Certainly, these professionals play a central role in the matter, but engineers are not a singularity inside engineering ; they exist and operate as a part of a complex network of mutual relationships between many other people, organizations and groups. When engineering ethics and engineers’ ethics are taken as one and the same thing the paradigm of the ethical engineer which prevails is that of the (...) heroic engineer, a certain model of the ideal engineer: someone both quite individualistic and strong enough to deal with all the moral challenges that could arise. We argue that this is not the best approach, at least today in our interrelated world. We have achieved a high degree of independence from nature by means of technology. In exchange for this autonomy we have become increasingly tied up with very complex systems to which we constantly delegate new tasks and powers. Concerns about safety keep growing everywhere due to the fact that now we have a sensitive awareness of the huge amount of power we are both consuming and deploying, thus, new forms of dialogue and consensus have to be incorporated at different levels, in different forums and at different times. Within these democratic channels of participation not just the needs and interests, but also the responsibilities and mutual commitments of all parties should be taken into account. (shrink)
Many ameliorative projects aim at moral goods such as social equality. For example, the amelioration of the concept MARRIAGE forms part of efforts to achieve equal rights for the LGBT+ community. What does implementation of such an ameliorated concept consist in? In this paper, I argue that, for some ameliorated concepts, successful implementation requires that individuals eschew semantic deference, at least with respect to relevant dimensions of the concept. My argument appeals to consideration of the aims of conceptual engineers engaged (...) in this type of ameliorative project: they seek conceptual change in order to contribute to the dismantling of oppressive social structures, institutions, and systems of belief. I argue that, for such aims to be achieved, it must be the case that individuals who come to endorse the concept do so for the right reasons---because they have gained an understanding of why the ameliorated concept is morally preferable to its ancestor. Once they have acquired such reasons, however, they are no longer correctly described as semantically deferential; they will treat moral reasons to employ the concept as overriding of semantic considerations. (shrink)
Should engineering ethics be taught? Despite the obvious truism that we all want our students to be moral engineers who practice virtuous professional behavior, I argue, in this article that the question itself obscures several ambiguities that prompt preliminary resolution. Upon clarification of these ambiguities, and an attempt to delineate key issues that make the question a philosophically interesting one, I conclude that engineering ethics not only should not, but cannot, be taught if we understand “teaching engineering (...) ethics” to mean training engineers to be moral individuals (as some advocates seem to have proposed). However, I also conclude that there is a justification to teaching engineering ethics, insofar as we are able to clearly identify the most desirable and efficacious pedagogical approach to the subject area, which I propose to be a case study-based format that utilizes the principle of human cognitive pattern recognition. (shrink)
For the uninitiated, there are two major tendencies in the modeling of human cognition. The older, tradtional school believes, in essence, that full human cognition can be modeled by dividing the world up into distinct entities -- called __symbol s__-- such as “dog”, “cat”, “run”, “bite”, “happy”, “tumbleweed”, and so on, and then manipulating this vast set of symbols by a very complex and very subtle set of rules. The opposing school claims that this system, while it might be good (...) at concluding that Paris is the capital of France or that there must be blood flowing in the left-rear leg of a cow, can never capture the full measure -- indeed, the essence -- of human cognition. For them, the essential features of cognition emerge from the combined effects of myriad, tiny actions far below the surface of consciousness. This is the camp to which Paul Churchland belongs. (shrink)
Global Engineering Ethics introduces the fundamentals of ethics in a context specific to engineering without privileging any one national or cultural conception of ethics. Numerous case studies from around the world help the reader to see clearly the relevance of design, safety, and professionalism to engineers. Engineering increasingly takes place in global contexts, with industrial and research teams operating across national and cultural borders. This adds a layer of complexity to already challenging ethical issues. This book is (...) essential reading for anyone wanting to understand or communicate the ethics of engineering, including students, academics, and researchers, and is indispensable for those involved in international and cross-cultural environments. (shrink)
Conceptual engineers sometimes say they want to change what our words mean. If a certain kind of externalism is true, it might be nearly impossible to do that. For some of the external factors that determine meaning, like metaphysical naturalness or past usage, are not within our power to change. And if we can’t change what determines meaning, then we can’t change meaning. I argue that, if this sort of externalism is true, then conceptual engineers didn’t want to change what (...) our words mean anyway. And if they did, they could always engineer externalism out of the language, or engineer a new sense of ‘meaning’ which could be changed. So the truth of externalism does not pose a threat to the possibility of conceptual engineering. (shrink)
How do engineers respond to ethical dilemmas that occur in practice? How do they view their individual and collective responsibilities? How do they make decisions before all the facts are in? Using the space shuttle programme as the framework, this book examines the role of ethical decision making in the practice of engineering. In particular, the book considers the design and development of the main engines of the space shuttle as a paradigm for how individual engineers perceive, articulate, and (...) resolve ethical dilemmas in a large, complex organisation. A series of in-depth case studies show engineers at work on various stages of the project as they balance budgets, deadlines and risks. By documenting the historical development of a single system, the book provides a unique opportunity to explore the complex interactions between political, organisational and technical pressures and engineering and management decisions. (shrink)
Philosophical work exploring the relation between cognition and the Internet is now an active area of research. Some adopt an externalist framework, arguing that the Internet should be seen as environmental scaffolding that drives and shapes cognition. However, despite growing interest in this topic, little attention has been paid to how the Internet influences our affective life — our moods, emotions, and our ability to regulate these and other feeling states. We argue that the Internet scaffolds not only cognition but (...) also affect. Using various case studies, we consider some ways that we are increasingly dependent on our Internet-enabled “techno-social niches” to regulate the contours of our own affective life and participate in the affective lives of others. We argue further that, unlike many of the other environmental resources we use to regulate affect, the Internet has distinct properties that introduce new dimensions of complexity to these regulative processes. First, it is radically social in a way many of these other resources are not. Second, it is a radically distributed and decentralized resource; no one individual or agent is responsible for the Internet’s content or its affective impact on users. Accordingly, while the Internet can profoundly augment and enrich our affective life and deepen our connection with others, there is also a distinctive kind of affective precarity built into our online endeavors as well. (shrink)
Comparing engineering to evolution typically involves adaptationist thinking, where well-designed artifacts are likened to well-adapted organisms, and the process of evolution is likened to the process of design. A quite different comparison is made when biologists focus on evolvability instead of adaptationism. Here, the idea is that complex integrated systems, whether evolved or engineered, share universal principles that affect the way they change over time. This shift from adaptationism to evolvability is a significant move for, as I argue, we (...) can make sense of these universal principles without making any adaptationism claims. Furthermore, evolvability highlights important aspects of engineering that are ignored in the adaptationist debates. I introduce some novel engineering examples that incorporate these key neglected aspects, and use these examples to challenge some commonly cited contrasts between engineering and evolution, and to highlight some novel resemblances that have gone unnoticed. (shrink)
How much responsibility ought a professional engineer to have with regard to supporting basic principles of sustainable development? While within the United States, professional engineering societies, as reflected in their codes of ethics, differ in their responses to this question, none of these professional societies has yet to put the engineer’s responsibility toward sustainability on a par with commitments to public safety, health, and welfare. In this paper, we aim to suggest that sustainability should be included in the paramountcy (...) clause because it is a necessary condition to ensure the safety, health, and welfare of the public. Part of our justification rests on the fact that to engineer sustainably means among many things to consider social justice, understood as the fair and equitable distribution of social goods, as a design constraint similar to technical, economic, and environmental constraints. This element of social justice is not explicit in the current paramountcy clause. Our argument rests on demonstrating that social justice in terms of both inter- and intra-generational equity is an important dimension of sustainability (and engineering). We also propose that embracing sustainability in the codes while recognizing the role that social justice plays may elevate the status of the engineer as public intellectual and agent of social good. This shift will then need to be incorporated in how we teach undergraduate engineering students about engineering ethics. (shrink)
Engineering is 'the people-serving profession'. The work of engineers involves interaction with clients, other engineers, and the public at large. More than any other profession, their work also directly involves and affects the environment. This book makes the case that engineers have special professional obligations to protect and enhance the environment, and the authors - one, an engineer and the other, a philosopher - seek to provide an ethical basis for these obligations. In exploring these ethical issues, the authors (...) aim to show that engineers make a difference. The text opens with a series of case studies in which engineers face complex and challenging decisions about the environment. Succeeding chapters examine different ideas about environmental ethics for engineers, including professional codes and both modern and historical discussions of environmental responsibility. The book concludes with a collection of readings that complement the text. Students, as well as practising engineers, will find much of interest in this well-argued and thought-provoking book. (shrink)
When thinking about ethics, technology is often only mentioned as the source of our problems, not as a potential solution to our moral dilemmas. When thinking about technology, ethics is often only mentioned as a constraint on developments, not as a source and spring of innovation. In this paper, we argue that ethics can be the source of technological development rather than just a constraint and technological progress can create moral progress rather than just moral problems. We show this by (...) an analysis of how technology can contribute to the solution of so-called moral overload or moral dilemmas. Such dilemmas typically create a moral residue that is the basis of a second-order principle that tells us to reshape the world so that we can meet all our moral obligations. We can do so, among other things, through guided technological innovation. (shrink)
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 to deploy the tools of conceptual engineering in mathematics. I will examine Cappelen’s recent argument that there are no conceptual safe spaces and consider whether mathematics constitutes a counterexample. I argue that it does not, drawing on Haslanger’s distinction between manifest and operative concepts, and applying this in a novel way to set-theoretic foundations. I then set out some of the questions that need to be engaged with to establish mathematics as involving a kind of conceptual engineering. I finish with a case study of how the tools of conceptual engineering will give us a way to progress in the debate between advocates of the Universe view and the Multiverse view in set theory. (shrink)
In the burgeoning philosophical literature on conceptual engineering improving our concepts is typically portrayed as the hallmark activity of the field. However, Herman Cappelen has challenged the idea that we can know how and why conceptual changes occur well enough to actively intervene in revising our concepts; the mechanisms of conceptual change are typically inscrutable to us. If the ‘inscrutability challenge’ is correct, the practical aspect of conceptual engineering may seem to be undermined, but I argue that endorsing (...) such pessimism would be a mistake. Even if the inscrutability challenge is correct, conceptual engineers often have good reasons to try to preserve existing concepts. I examine several cases where concept preservation is important and draw lessons about this activity for conceptual engineers. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Conceptual engineering provides a prima facie attractive alternative to traditional, conceptual analysis based approaches to philosophical method – particularly for those with doubts about the epistemic merits of intuition. As such, it seems to be a natural fit for those persuaded by the critiques of intuition offered by experimental philosophy. Recently, a number of authors [Schupbach, J. 2015. “Experimental Explication.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 : 672–710; Shepherd, J., and J. Justus. 2015. “X-Phi and Carnapian Explication.” Erkenntnis 80 (...) : 381–402; Fisher, J. 2015. “Pragmatic Experimental Philosophy.” Philosophical Psychology 28: 412–433; Machery, E. 2017. Philosophy Within its Proper Bounds. Oxford University Press] have suggested that experimental philosophy might be employed in service of conceptual engineering. In this paper, I provide a novel argument for x-phi’s relevance to conceptual engineering, based on a ‘functionalist’ approach to conceptual engineering. In short, I argue that experimental philosophy is distinctively well-suited to investigation of the purposes or functions which our concepts serve, and the means by which they fulfil those functions. Experimental philosophy thereby uncovers potential engineering solutions that may serve as models for the conceptual engineer. (shrink)
To assess ethics pedagogy in science and engineering, we developed a new tool called the Engineering and Science Issues Test (ESIT). ESIT measures moral judgment in a manner similar to the Defining Issues Test, second edition, but is built around technical dilemmas in science and engineering. We used a quasi-experimental approach with pre- and post-tests, and we compared the results to those of a control group with no overt ethics instruction. Our findings are that several (but not (...) all) stand-alone classes showed a significant improvement compared to the control group when the metric includes multiple stages of moral development. We also found that the written test had a higher response rate and sensitivity to pedagogy than the electronic version. We do not find significant differences on pre-test scores with respect to age, education level, gender or political leanings, but we do on whether subjects were native English speakers. We did not find significant differences on pre-test scores based on whether subjects had previous ethics instruction; this could suggest a lack of a long-term effect from the instruction. (shrink)
Engineers encounter difficult ethical problems in their practice and in research. In many ways, these problems are like design problems: they are complex, often ill-defined; resolving them involves an iterative process of analysis and synthesis; and there can be more than one acceptable solution. This book offers a real-world, problem-centered approach to engineering ethics, using a rich collection of open-ended scenarios and case studies to develop skill in recognizing and addressing ethical issues.
Focusing on the breakthrough field of molecular engineering--a new technology enabling scientists to build tiny machines atom by atom--the author offers projections on how this technological revolution will affect the future of computer science, space travel, medicine, and manufacturing.
Online information intermediaries such as Facebook and Google are slowly replacing traditional media channels thereby partly becoming the gatekeepers of our society. To deal with the growing amount of information on the social web and the burden it brings on the average user, these gatekeepers recently started to introduce personalization features, algorithms that filter information per individual. In this paper we show that these online services that filter information are not merely algorithms. Humans not only affect the design of the (...) algorithms, but they also can manually influence the filtering process even when the algorithm is operational. We further analyze filtering processes in detail, show how personalization connects to other filtering techniques, and show that both human and technical biases are present in today’s emergent gatekeepers. We use the existing literature on gatekeeping and search engine bias and provide a model of algorithmic gatekeeping. (shrink)
Engineering the Climate: The Ethics of Solar Radiation Management is a wide-ranging and expert analysis of the ethics of the intentional management of solar radiation. This book will be a useful tool for policy-makers, a provocation for ethicists, and an eye-opening analysis for both the scientist and the general reader with interest in climate change.
Carnap and Goodman developed methods of conceptual re-engineering known respectively as explication and reflective equilibrium. These methods aim at advancing theories by developing concepts that are simultaneously guided by pre-existing concepts and intended to replace these concepts. This paper shows that Carnap’s and Goodman’s methods are historically closely related, analyses their structural interconnections, and argues that there is great systematic potential in interpreting them as aspects of one method, which ultimately must be conceived as a component of theory development. (...) The main results are: an adequate method of conceptual re-engineering must focus not on individual concepts but on systems of concepts and theories; the linear structure of Carnapian explication must be replaced by a process of mutual adjustments as described by Goodman; Carnap’s condition of similarity can be analysed into two components, one securing a relation to the specific extensions of the pre-existing concepts, one regulating the transition to the new system of concepts; these two criteria of adequacy can be built into Goodman’s account of reflective equilibrium to ensure that the resulting concepts promote theoretical virtues while being sufficiently similar to the concepts we started out with. (shrink)
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 programmatic paper is to overcome this knowledge gap by providing some guidelines for developing the theories of concepts and of cognition that will ground the systematic unified framework needed to effectively implement conceptual engineering as a widely applicable method for the cognitive optimization of our conceptual devices. (shrink)
Engineering Ethics literature tends to emphasize wrongdoing, its avoidance, or its prevention. It also tends to focus on identifiable events, especially those that involve unfortunate, sometimes disastrous consequences. This paper shifts attention to the positive in engineering practice; and, as a result, the need for addressing questions of character and imagination becomes apparent.
This volume identifies, discusses and addresses the wide array of ethical issues that have emerged for engineers due to the rise of a global economy. To date, there has been no systematic treatment of the particular challenges globalization poses for engineering ethics standards and education. This volume concentrates on precisely this challenge. Scholars and practitioners from diverse national and professional backgrounds discuss the ethical issues emerging from the inherent symbiotic relationship between the engineering profession and globalization. Through their (...) discussions a deeper and more complete understanding of the precise ways in which globalization impacts the formulation and justification of ethical standards in engineering as well as the curriculum and pedagogy of engineering ethics education emerges. (shrink)
Recent scientific approaches to aesthetics include evolutionary theories about the origin of art behavior, psychological investigations into human aesthetic experience and preferences, and neurophysiological explorations of the mechanisms underlying art experience. Critics of these approaches argue that they are ultimately irrelevant to a philosophical aesthetics because they cannot help us understand the distinctive conceptual basis and normativity of our art experience. This criticism may seem plausible given the piecemeal nature of these scientific approaches, but a more comprehensive naturalistic framework can (...) help us understand the conceptual basis and normativity of art. In particular, the ecology of art, an understanding of how individuals interact within particular environments, can help us understand the engineered art niches in which we create and experience art. Each niche is associated with a particular deme, or set of individuals that interact within that niche, and a set of cognitive, epistemic, and pedagogical technologies that form the conceptual basis of a niche-dependent normativity. This is to be contrasted with the niche-independent normativity revealed by many of the scientific approaches. This framework, and the conflicting streams of normativity it reveals, allows us to better understand conflicts in normativity and the implausibility of unequivocal and universal normative principles. (shrink)
Conceptual engineering is the method for assessing and improving our concepts. Some have recently claimed that the implementation of such method in the form of ameliorative projects is truth-driven and should thus be epistemically constrained, ultimately at least (Simion 2018; cf. Podosky 2018). This paper challenges that claim on the assumption of a social constructionist analysis of ideologies, and provides an alternative, pragmatic and cognitive framework for determining the legitimacy of ameliorative conceptual projects overall. The upshot is that one (...) should not ameliorate for the sake of truth or knowledge, in the case of ideologies—at least, not primarily. (shrink)
Genetic engineering evokes a number of objections that are not directed at the negative effects the technique might have on the health and welfare of the modified animals. The concept of animal integrity is often invoked to articulate these kind of objections. Moreover, in reaction to the advent of genetic engineering, the concept has been extended from the level of the individual animal to the level of the genome and of the species. However, the concept of animal integrity (...) was not developed in the context of genetic engineering. Given this external origin, the aim of this paper is to critically examine the assumption that the concept of integrity, including its extensions to the level of the genome and the species, is suitable to articulate and justify moral objections more specifically directed at the genetic engineering of animals. (shrink)
In Engineering Philosophy, the author explores how the concerns of philosophers are relevant to engineering thought and practice in negotiating tradeoffs in diagnosing failure, in constructing adequate models and simulations, and in teaching.
Contrary to political and philosophical consensus, we argue that the threats posed by climate change justify population engineering, the intentional manipulation of the size and structure of human populations. Specifically, we defend three types of policies aimed at reducing fertility rates: choice enhancement, preference adjustment, and incentivization. While few object to the first type of policy, the latter two are generally rejected because of their potential for coercion or morally objectionable manipulation. We argue that forms of each policy type (...) are pragmatically and morally justified tools for preventing the harms of global climate change. (shrink)
Anthropogenic climate change is arguably one of the biggest problems that confront us today. There is ample evidence that climate change is likely to affect adversely many aspects of life for all people around the world, and that existing solutions such as geoengineering might be too risky and ordinary behavioural and market solutions might not be sufficient to mitigate climate change. In this paper, we consider a new kind of solution to climate change, what we call human engineering, which (...) involves biomedical modifications of humans so that they can mitigate and/or adapt to climate change. We argue that human engineering is potentially less risky than geoengineering and that it could help behavioural and market solutions succeed in mitigating climate change. We also consider some possible ethical concerns regarding human engineering such as its safety, the implications of human engineering for our children and society, and we argue that these concerns can be addressed. Our upshot is that human engineering deserves further consideration in the debate about climate change. (shrink)
Genetically engineered (GE) insects, such as the GE OX513A Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, have been designed to suppress their wild-type populations so as to reduce the transmission of vector-borne diseases in humans. Apart from the ecological and epidemiological uncertainties associated with this approach, such biotechnological approaches may be used by individual governments or the global community of nations to avoid addressing the underlying structural, systemic causes of those infections... We discuss here key ethical questions raised by the use of GE mosquitoes, (...) with the aim of fostering discussion between the public, researchers, policy makers, healthcare organizations, and regulatory agencies at the local, national, and international levels. We affect that goal by outlining a procedural approach to decision-making about the use of the “biotechnology” that goes beyond “community engagement.” The protocol we advocate for entails informed deliberations and decision-making at the community level. It is designed to ensure that the voices of the marginalized and vulnerable groups that would be disproportionately affected by the decision are heard during the community-wide discussions. Moreover, we make the case that the values embedded in the risk assessment should be identified so that the community can make an informed decision about the use of GE insects. In addition, we advocate for the involvement of a variety of actors whose responsibility would be to ensure that the community has the opportunity to make an informed decision based on deliberations about the use of the “biotechnology.”. (shrink)
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