An Engineering Turn in Conceptual Analysis

Chapter
Part of the Philosophy of Engineering and Technology book series (POET, volume 23)

Abstract

In this chapter I discuss the notion of technical function as it is used in engineering and review the way in which this notion was conceptually analysed in the Dual Nature of Technical Artifacts program. I show that technical function is a term that is intentionally held polysemous in engineering, and argue that conceptual analysis informed by engineering practices should chart and explain this polysemy. The Dual Nature program aimed however at determining a single meaning of the term technical function and developed an approach to conceptual analysis, called conceptual engineering, for arriving at this single meaning on the basis of engineering practices. It is concluded that this conceptual engineering approach is ill-suited as conceptual analysis of the term technical function in engineering. This approach is nevertheless a useful tool in this analysis, since it can make explicit how specific meanings of polysemous engineering terms are useful to specific engineering tasks.

Keywords

Technical function Polysemy of engineering terms Conceptual analysis Conceptual engineering 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

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