Produced to use : combining two key intuitions on the nature of artefacts

W.N. Houkes, P.E. Vermaas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

In this paper we examine the possibilities of combining two central intuitions about artefacts: that they are functional objects, and that they are non-natural objects. We do so in four steps. First we argue that, contrary to common opinion, functions cannot be the cornerstone of a characterisation of artefacts. Our argument suggests an alternative view, which characterises artefacts as objects embedded in what we call use plans. Second, we show that this plan-centred successor of the function-focused view is at odds with the non-naturalness intuition. Third, we show that this intuition can be developed by defining artefacts as produced or human-made objects, but that the resulting definition might collapse into the plan-centred view, and has trouble distinguishing artefact types or kinds. Finally, we propose a division of labour between production and use plans: among objects in general, artefacts are distinguished as human-made objects; within the domain of artefacts, types or kinds are characterised by the use plans in which artefacts are embedded.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-136
Number of pages14
JournalTechné
Volume13
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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