Functions and the aesthetics of technical artefacts

Wybo Houkes (Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, it is examined to what extent functions, as analysed in the philosophy of technical artefacts, can serve a role in explaining the aesthetic appreciation of these objects. The main conclusion is that, despite first appearances, so-called ‘Functional Beauty’ accounts cannot derive strength from analyses of artefact functions; on the contrary, these analyses constrain the possibilities for developing a suitable, function-based account of aesthetic appreciation. The paper follows a conceptual-engineering approach. After presenting desiderata for an account of aesthetic appreciation, relevant insights are reviewed that are drawn from philosophical work on artefact functions. Combining the desiderata and insights, three major issues are identified that complicate the relation between function ascriptions to and aesthetic appreciation of technical artefacts. In closing, options are offered for resolving these complications or avoiding them altogether.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-55
Number of pages19
JournalGrazer Philosophische Studien
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Artefact functions
  • Everyday aesthetics
  • Functional beauty
  • Technical artefacts
  • artefact functions
  • everyday aesthetics
  • technical artefacts
  • functional beauty


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