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A New Logic of Technical Malfunction

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Abstract

Aim of the paper is to present a new logic of technical malfunction. The need for this logic is motivated by a simple-sounding philosophical question: Is a malfunctioning corkscrew, which fails to uncork bottles, nonetheless a corkscrew? Or in general terms, is a malfunctioning F, which fails to do what Fs do, nonetheless an F? We argue that ‘malfunctioning’ denotes the modifier Malfunctioning rather than a property, and that the answer depends on whether Malfunctioning is subsective or privative. If subsective, a malfunctioning F is an F; if privative, a malfunctioning F is not an F. An intensional logic is required to raise and answer the question, because modifiers operate directly on properties and not on sets or individuals. This new logic provides the formal tools to reason about technical malfunction by means of a logical analysis of the sentence “a is a malfunctioning F”.

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Correspondence to Massimiliano Carrara.

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Jespersen, B., Carrara, M. A New Logic of Technical Malfunction. Stud Logica 101, 547–581 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11225-012-9397-8

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Keywords

  • Logic of malfunction
  • Modification
  • Simple type theory
  • Transparent intensional logic
  • Philosophy of technology
  • Artefact
  • Functioning as
  • Intensional essentialism