Truth and objectivity in conceptual engineering

Sawyer, Sarah (2020) Truth and objectivity in conceptual engineering. Inquiry, 63 (9-10). pp. 1001-1022. ISSN 0020-174X

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Abstract

Conceptual engineering is to be explained by appeal to the externalist distinction between concepts and conceptions. If concepts are determined by non-conceptual relations to objective properties rather than by associated conceptions (whether individual or communal), then topic preservation through semantic change will be possible. The requisite level of objectivity is guaranteed by the possibility of collective error and does not depend on a stronger level of objectivity, such as mind-independence or independence from linguistic or social practice more generally. This means that the requisite level of objectivity is exhibited not only by natural kinds, but also by a wide range of philosophical kinds, social kinds and artefactual kinds. The alternative externalist accounts of conceptual engineering offered by Herman Cappelen and Derek Ball fall back into a kind of descriptivism which is antithetical to externalism and fails to recognise this basic level of objectivity.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Conceptual engineering, content externalism, meaning, Strawson's challenge, Herman Cappelen, Derek Ball.
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General) > B0105 Special topics, A-Z > B0105.M4 Meaning
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General) > B0105 Special topics, A-Z > B0105.T54 Thought and thinking
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Depositing User: Sarah Sawyer
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2019 10:49
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2021 14:29
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/87644

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