Commitment engineering: conceptual engineering without representations

Guido Löhr (Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


It is largely assumed that conceptual engineering is essentially about revising, introducing, or eliminating representational devices, in particular the intension and extension of words and concepts. However, tying conceptual engineering too closely to representations is risky. Not everyone endorses the notion of representation as theoretically helpful or even real. Not everyone thinks that concepts or meanings should be understood in terms of the notion of representation. Does this mean that conceptual engineering is not interesting or relevant for these skeptics? In this paper, I motivate and propose a non-representationalist construal of conceptual engineering. I argue that conceptual engineers can be understood as primarily engineering linguistic entitlements and commitments rather than representational devices. Note that this account is non-representationalist, but explicitly not anti-representationalist. Representations may play a significant role when it comes to justifying and completing commitment engineering projects.
Original languageEnglish
Issue numberX
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Aug 2021


  • Commitments
  • Conceptual Engineering
  • Social ontology
  • Concepts
  • Meanings
  • Pragmatism
  • Conceptual engineering
  • Non-representationalism
  • Normativity


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