Philosophy Artifacts
by
Maarten Franssen
  • LAST REVIEWED: 08 October 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 June 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0145

Introduction

Leaving Aristotle aside, philosophical interest in artifacts as a general class of entities is recent and largely restricted to, roughly, the period following the turn of the 20th century. Artifacts have, first of all, received explicit treatment from the perspective of two practices in which they play a crucial role. One is art, which was initially dominating and has occasioned discussion of the character of artifacts as, or in relation to, artworks. The other practice is technology, occasioning an interest in technical artifacts, instruments rather than artworks, an interest that runs parallel to the emergence, after World War II, of the philosophy of technology as a philosophical research area next to the long-dominating philosophy of science. Second, irrespective of their role in any practice, artifacts have been a focus of interest in metaphysics for some time, where they pose paradigmatic examples of objects whose status as “real” objects is questionable because no clear identity conditions can be given for them, either as individual objects or as kinds of objects. Yet other metaphysical issues related to artifacts are the dichotomy between the artificial and the natural and the question of whether the class of artifacts can include not only concrete material objects but also abstract entities. The relevance of artifacts to most people, however, lies not in their controversial definitional or metaphysical aspects but in the fact that the daily-life environment of people in urbanized societies is overwhelmingly made up of artifacts (mainly technical artifacts) and their presence, distribution, and properties are a major contribution to shaping the lives of people by the way they shape the goals that people set themselves and the way people set out to realize these goals. Accordingly, the societal, political, and normative dimensions of artifacts have received lively interest from researchers in the social sciences and from ethicists and moral philosophers. Apart from questions of general interest, there are a few specific areas where an interest in the character and status of artifacts is linked to concrete issues in policymaking: for example, environmental policymaking and patenting. Finally, there are a few areas associated with particular disciplines of (applied) science to which artifacts are central in a way that is of philosophical interest: psychological work on how humans think about artifacts, in particular, come to think about them in the course of their cognitive development; research of animal ethologists on the use tools by animals; and methodological research in relation to disciplines in cultural studies such as anthropology and archaeology.

General Discussions

Margolis and Laurence 2007 is a good introduction to the current state of the field regarding the character of artifacts as a kind of object. Concerning particular themes related to artifacts, Simon 1996 is an introduction to their grounding role in distinctions among sciences; Preston 2012 to their role in the structuring of human life and human activities; Verbeek 2005 to their role in the shaping of our decisions and ethical considerations; and Dennett 1990 to the relation to questions of meaning and interpretation. For the latter, Vaesen and van Amerongen 2008 provides a critical note. Additionally, two studies presenting a sort of commonsense view of artifacts from a nonphilosophical perspective have been included that both concentrate on artifacts as designed objects. Of these Petroski 1992 adopts a historical perspective and Norman 2001 a societal perspective.

  • Dennett, D. C. “The Interpretation of Texts, People and Other Artifacts.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 50 (1990): 177–194.

    DOI: 10.2307/2108038Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that the interpretation of texts, people in psychology, and artifacts in archaeology, history, and daily life, are one and the same activity and are modeled on functional analysis in evolutionary biology and meet similar problems of equivocation and underdetermination. A consequence for artifacts is that their function cannot be considered determined by what their designers intended it to be.

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    • Margolis, Eric, and Stephen Laurence, eds. Creations of the Mind: Theories of Artifacts and Their Representations. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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      Combines original essays on the metaphysics of artifacts, the (developmental) psychology of artifact concepts and categorization, and early evolution of human artifact use and tool use by nonhuman animals.

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      • Norman, Donald A. The Design of Everyday Things. London: MIT Press, 2001.

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        Through case studies, this book discusses conceptions of good and bad design and proposes several principles that should guide design. Emphasizes the importance of well-designed artifacts for the way we live our everyday lives, by making clear how badly designed artifacts can make our lives miserable. Originally published as The Psychology of Everyday Things by Basic Books in 1988.

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        • Petroski, Henry. The Evolution of Useful Things: How Everyday Artifacts—From Forks and Pins to Paper Clips and Zippers—Came to Be as They Are. New York: Random House, 1992.

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          Describes, with much attention for historical detail and cultural settings, how even the most humble artifacts from our daily lives can have complicated design histories.

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          • Preston, Beth. A Philosophy of Material Culture: Action, Function, and Mind. New York: Routledge, 2012.

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            Merges work on the concept of function with theories of individual and collective action involving material artifacts, in support of a view on the place of the individual in society and the improvisatory character of human action.

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            • Simon, Herbert A. The Sciences of the Artificial. 3d ed. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996.

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              Contrasts the sciences dealing with the methods and results of human intervention in the world, to those aiming to give a description of the world. Presents a fourfold delineation of “artificial things” as synthesized, imitating nature, functional, and subject to imperatives and characterizes them as interfaces between an inner environment (the workings of their physical structure) and an outer environment (their context of application). First edition published in 1969.

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              • Vaesen, K., and M. van Amerongen. “Optimality vs. Intent: Limitations of Dennett’s Artifact Hermeneutics.” Philosophical Psychology 21 (2008): 779–797.

                DOI: 10.1080/09515080802516204Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                Argues against the thesis proposed by Dennett that people’s interpretation of artifacts and other objects grounded in a design, such as biological items, relies on optimality considerations (i.e., what the item seems best for) rather than designer’s intentions by examining research in cognitive psychology and archaeology. Concludes instead that intentional considerations play a crucial and necessary role in artifact hermeneutics.

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                • Verbeek, Peter Paul. What Things Do: Philosophical Reflections on Technology, Agency, and Design. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2005.

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                  Develops a view of artifacts as active components of technological culture to argue against the primarily negative and pessimistic interpretation of technology represented by Heidegger and Jaspers for an empirically richer and more nuanced picture of the way material artifacts shape human lives.

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                  Definitions of Artifacts

                  The first attempts at a characterization of the category of artifacts in the most general sense, as things made by humans, where “made” is to be understood in a specific, intentional sense, appeared only in the 1990s. Hilpinen 2011, Hilpinen 1992, Hilpinen 1993, and Dipert 1993 characterize an artifact as an object more or less successfully created by an author to have certain properties. Dipert extends this definition into a threefold taxonomy of tools, instruments, and artifacts properly speaking, distinguishing between the aspects of use for a purpose, intentional modification of naturally occurring objects or material to support any such use, and the adding of an aspect that communicates an object’s being so modified. In their discussion of what makes artifacts a philosophically interesting category of things, however, and of the philosophical problems they give rise to, both authors still seem to be motivated mainly by concerns about the ontology of art and artworks and to be aimed at giving artworks a firm footing among ordinary objects, which are nowadays overwhelmingly human-made. Thomasson 2003 and Thomasson 2007 (cited under the Existence of Ordinary Things) have taken up Hilpinen’s work and developed it more in the direction of technical artifacts. Her work is more directly motivated by broadly discussed metaphysical concerns discussed in the section Existence and Identity of Artifacts.

                  • Dipert, Randall R. Artifacts, Art Works, and Agency. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993.

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                    One of the few comprehensive philosophical works dealing with artifacts, in which a broad range of topics is discussed. Introduces a threefold definition of artifacts—into instruments, tools, and artifacts (in the strict sense), and discusses the relation of artifacts to human action, intentionality, recognition, and interpretation; the metaphysics of artifacts; the relation between artifacts and artworks; and the contrast between the artificial and the natural.

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                    • Hilpinen, R. “Artifacts and Works of Art.” Theoria 58 (1992): 58–82.

                      DOI: 10.1111/j.1755-2567.1992.tb01155.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                      Proposes a general definition of artifacts as objects that are created by authors and argues that the ontology of artifacts can best be understood by studying the relationship between the artifacts and artworks and their authors. Discusses in particular the status of the artifacts that are artworks.

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                      • Hilpinen, R. “Authors and Artifacts.” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 93 (1993): 155–178.

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                        Gives a formal analysis of artifacts as objects created by authors. Presents necessary conditions on authorship. Defends authorship of objects as well as events (performances) and the view that for artworks that are performed, the writing/composing artist(s) as well as the performing artist(s) are the authors.

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                        • Hilpinen, R. “Artifact.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by Edward N. Zalta. 2011.

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                          Gives general characterization but concentrates on the exposition of and discussion of his own views, which are expounded in detail in the next two references. First published in 1999.

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                          • Thomasson, A. L. “Realism and Human Kinds.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (2003): 580–609.

                            DOI: 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2003.tb00309.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                            Argues against the claim that because artifacts and institutional objects depend on human beliefs and intentions, they cannot be seen as real objects. Rather, because we have good reasons for taking the kinds of objects dealt with in the social and human sciences to be real, realist views in ontology, epistemology, and semantics that were developed with natural scientific kinds in mind have to be reconsidered.

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                            Metaphysics and Ontology of Artifacts

                            The question whether artifacts are real objects, included in the “furniture of the world,” takes up a large part of the philosophical literature on artifacts. Selected references from this literature are divided over four subsections, discussing their individuation generally, in relation to specific aspects such as parthood or reference, in the context of the existence of ordinary objects, and as included in applied formal ontologies.

                            The Existence and Identity of Artifacts

                            Arguments spelling out the difficulties we run into if we claim that artifacts can be clearly individuated date back right to the beginnings of modern philosophy. One of the best-known cases taken to support such a conclusion is the puzzle of ship of Theseus, presented by Hobbes in his De corpore from 1655 and presented in Wiggins 2001 and Simons 1987. The ship in which Theseus had sailed to Crete to vanquish the Minotaur had been kept seaworthy by occasionally replacing its original boards by new ones, which in Antiquity had already led to a discussion whether, given that there had been a great many of these repairs, the ship could still be considered the same ship as Theseus’s original one. But Hobbes added this to the conundrum: What if someone had carefully kept all the discarded boards and finally reassembled a ship from them? Would this ship not be just as much a candidate for being the same ship as Theseus’s original one, or even a better one? The fact that artifacts are modular and can be disassembled, repaired, and reassembled, gives rise to competing criteria that decide an artifact’s identity, which seem to allow for identity switches, branching, intermittent existence, and repeated existence; moreover, however the matter is settled the outcome seems to make essential reference to human intentions (concerning either their design or their use, or both), which makes their existence, persistence, and identity dependent on (even instantaneously) matching intentions. No such problems arise for electrons or volcanoes. Simons 1987 and Rea 1995 see these problems as affecting all objects that show a certain level of complexity, whereas Wiggins 2001 draws a dividing line right through these and defines artifacts as those kinds of objects that are subject to vague, mind-dependent identity conditions irrespective of their origin, in contrast to natural things such as animals, which receive their identity conditions entirely from their material makeup. This view is questioned in Losonsky 1990 and Soavi 2009. Lowe 1983 and Carter 1983 specifically discuss the case of the ship of Theseus. Ayers 1991 also questions the status of artifacts as individual objects, taking his cue from Locke rather than Hobbes. Thomasson 2009, finally, argues for a reversal of perspective and claims that the difficulties that metaphysics has with artifacts should lead to a reconsideration of much of traditional metaphysics.

                            • Ayers, Michael. “Artificial and Other Problematic Objects.” In Locke: Epistemology and Ontology. Vol. 2. By Michael Ayers, 239–253. The Arguments of the Philosophers. London: Routledge, 1991.

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                              Takes Locke as a starting point for suggesting a view on artifacts as being composed objects, that is, collections rather than unitary things.

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                              • Carter, W. R. “Artifacts of Theseus: Fact and Fiction.” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (1983): 248–265.

                                DOI: 10.1080/00048408312350021Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                Discusses the ship of Theseus’s problem; defends the view that neither the repaired ship nor the ship made from replaced planks is simply the same unqualified thing as the original one, but that either is the same something as the original one, with a proper qualification of the something.

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                                • Losonsky, M. “The Nature of Artifacts.” Philosophy 65 (1990): 81–88.

                                  DOI: 10.1017/S0031819100064263Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                  Defends the view (against, e.g., Wiggins) that artifacts can be said to have a nature, which is complex and consists of its inner structure and its use, in particular the purposes for which it is used and how it is used for those purposes. Defined in this way, artifacts can be scientifically studied, and things can be discovered about them: for example, that certain regularities hold for them.

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                                  • Lowe, E. J. “On the Identity of Artifacts.” Journal of Philosophy 80 (1983): 220–231.

                                    DOI: 10.2307/2026005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                    Discusses the “ship of Theseus” problem and defends the identity of the original ship and the repaired ship by giving new arguments that discredit the alternative option.

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                                    • Rea, M. “The Problem of Material Constitution.” Philosophical Review 104 (1995): 525–552.

                                      DOI: 10.2307/2185816Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                      Analyzes several metaphysical problems in which artifacts seem central, such as the ship of Theseus, as having to do with the way objects can be said to be constituted by matter.

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                                      • Simons, Peter. Parts: A Study in Ontology. Oxford: Clarendon, 1987.

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                                        A classic, partly formal study on the part-whole relation. Its chapters 5 and 6 propose an ontological account of individual objects that retain their individuality through changes both in their parts and in their composing matter. Artifacts are primary representatives of such individuals, exemplified by the case of the ship of Theseus.

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                                        • Soavi, M. “Antirealism and Artefact Kinds.” Techne: Research in Philosophy and Technology 13 (2009): 98–107.

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                                          Argues against the thesis that it is possible to trace a clear distinction between artifact kinds and natural kinds. Also argues that on the basis of this distinction, artifact kinds can be viewed as nominal kinds instead of real kinds by showing that arguments given for this thesis—be they metaphysical, epistemological, or semantic—are defective.

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                                          • Thomasson, A. L. “Artifacts in Metaphysics.” In Philosophy of Technology and Engineering Sciences. Edited by Anthonie Meijers, 191–212. Handbook of the Philosophy of Science 20. Amsterdam: North-Holland, 2009.

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                                            Argues that classical metaphysics has ignored artifacts to its own detriment and that a proper engagement with the difficulties that artifacts pose for metaphysics must lead to a rethinking of some of the most central problems and positions in metaphysics, for example, what metaphysical problems require solutions in the first place and how we should approach existence questions and conceive of realism.

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                                            • Wiggins, David. Sameness and Substance Renewed. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

                                              DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511612756Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                              Defends, as one of its topics, a distinction between substances, for which identity conditions obtain and for which natural kinds of things such as animals qualify, and the kinds of things for which identity conditions are not available: characterizes the latter category as “artifacts” generally speaking. Argues for its independence from the distinction between naturally occurring things and artificial or synthetic things. Originally published in 1980 as Sameness and Substance. See chapters 1–3.

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                                              Semantic and Mereological Aspects of Artifact Individuation

                                              The problems surrounding the individuation of artifacts are closely related to other areas of philosophy. How artifacts fit into theories of reference is discussed in Schwartz 1978 and Kornblith 1980. Another area of relevance is mereology, the study of parts and wholes. The possibility of disassembly and reassembly for artifacts has led to the suggestion of accepting scattered existence; Hershenov 2002 argues against it. Tzouvaras 1993, Tzouvaras 1995, Denkel 1995, and Symons 2010 discuss various ways in which an artifact’s parts or components are involved in their existence of individuation. The compositionality of artifacts, in addition to their being produced in series as a matter of course also affects how copying an artifact must be understood; Carrara and Soavi 2008 argues that three different notions of copy must be distinguished.

                                              • Carrara, M., and M. Soavi. “Ontology for Information Systems: Artefacts as a Case Study.” Mind and Society 7 (2008): 143–156.

                                                DOI: 10.1007/s11299-007-0036-4Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                Analyzes some specific features of the concept of artifacts and in particular the relation of an artifact being a copy of another artifact. Argues that this relation can be used to distinguish artifacts from other kinds of objects. Distinguishes three different kinds of copies: replicas, rigid copies, and functional copies, and uses these to differentiate between artifacts, artworks, and natural objects.

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                                                • Denkel, A. “Artifacts and Constituents.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 55 (1995): 311–322.

                                                  DOI: 10.2307/2108549Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                  Defends artifact essentialism, the view that artifacts with functions are things essentially different from the concrete things—hunks of matter—out of which they are built.

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                                                  • Hershenov, D. B. “Scattered Artifacts.” Southern Journal of Philosophy 40 (2002): 211–216.

                                                    DOI: 10.1111/j.2041-6962.2002.tb01897.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                    Shows that the difficulties resulting from accepting that artifacts can exist in scattered form and can survive disassembly are so great that we should deny the existence of scattered artifacts.

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                                                    • Kornblith, H. “Referring to Artifacts.” Philosophical Review 89 (1980): 109–114.

                                                      DOI: 10.2307/2184866Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                      Argues that Schwartz’s proposal for an alternative theory of reference for artifact terms cannot work.

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                                                      • Schwartz, S. P. “Putnam on Artifacts.” Philosophical Review 87 (1978): 566–574.

                                                        DOI: 10.2307/2184460Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                        Argues that the causal theory of reference as proposed by Kripke and Putnam, according to which kind terms do not refer in virtue of some description but in virtue of a causal relation between the speaker and a token of the kind, cannot hold for artifact terms. Proposes an alternative theory of reference for artifact terms on the basis of nominal essences.

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                                                        • Symons, J. “The Individuality of Artifacts and Organisms.” History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 32 (2010): 233–246.

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                                                          Argues that where the individuality of organisms derives from the functional interdependence of their parts, the individuality of artifacts derives from the selection of the artifact’s function by its designer. In both cases, the individuality is a historical property, but for artifacts it depends on something additional to (and beyond) the interdependence of its parts.

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                                                          • Tzouvaras, A. “Significant Parts and Identity of Artifacts.” Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 34 (1993): 445–452.

                                                            DOI: 10.1305/ndjfl/1093634732Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            Introduces the notion of the significance of a part of an artifact and then argues for the view that artifact identity is preserved if all significant parts are preserved.

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                                                            • Tzouvaras, A. “Worlds of Homogeneous Artifact.” Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 36 (1995): 454–474.

                                                              DOI: 10.1305/ndjfl/1040149360Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                              Presents a formal first-order theory of artifacts, which means material objects made out of a finite number of parts and subject to assembling and reassembling. The theory is restricted to artifacts that are homogeneous, that is, all their atomic parts are of equal ontological importance.

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                                                              The Existence of Ordinary Things

                                                              Doubts about the metaphysical seriousness of artifacts has become included in recent years into a much wider skepsis about the existence of ordinary, macroscopic objects in general and on the basis of all sorts of arguments. This has led to a reaction where several authors have come to the defense of ordinary objects: Thomasson 2007 does this primarily by attacking the arguments against them and the presuppositions underlying them (Baker 2007, Elder 2004), and Kanzian 2009 defends a realist metaphysical theory of ordinary objects in which artifacts are salient, with the express intention to recover the ontology that seems to underlie the way we ordinarily talk of objects. Baker 2004 initially developed her theory for the problem of human identity and personhood; a similarity between personhood and artifacthood is also defended in Doepke 1987.

                                                              • Baker, L. R. “The Ontology of Artifacts.” Philosophical Explorations 7 (2004): 99–111.

                                                                DOI: 10.1080/13869790410001694462Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                Going against a tradition in philosophy going back to Aristotle, which takes artifacts to be ontologically deficient, this theory of artifacts puts artifacts ontologically on a par with other material objects. The theory presents artifacts as constituted by—but not identical to—aggregates of matter. Gives an overview of the reasons brought forward against the ontological seriousness of artifacts and argues against the cogency of these reasons.

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                                                                • Baker, Lynne R. The Metaphysics of Everyday Life: An Essay in Practical Realism. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511487545Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  Presents and defends an account of the material world termed the “constitution” view, which construes familiar things as irreducibly real parts of reality. Although they are ultimately constituted by lower-level entities (material parts or particles), everyday objects are neither identical to nor reducible to aggregates of such entities. Contains discussions of nonreductive causation, vagueness, mereology, artifacts, three-dimensionalism, ontological novelty, ontological levels, and emergence.

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                                                                  • Doepke, F. “The Structures of Persons and Artifacts.” Ratio 29 (1987): 36–52.

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                                                                    Argues that general artifact classificatory terms such as “house” and “ship” and also terms for persons wholly definable in functional terms cannot be accepted as sortals, such as “tiger” or “rock.” The true sortals of artifacts and persons are terms like brand names, which allude to structures in virtue of which the objects comply with laws.

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                                                                    • Elder, Crawford L. Real Natures and Familiar Objects. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004.

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                                                                      Defends an ontology of common sense, which accepts both people and the medium-sized objects familiar to them as existing and having essential properties determinable by observation. Grounds the essential qualities necessary for the reality of artifacts in a copying relation.

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                                                                      • Kanzian, Christian. Ding—Substanz—Person: eine Alltagsontologie. Philosophische Analyse 33. Frankfurt: Ontos-Verlag, 2009.

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                                                                        Develops an ontological framework for clarifying the primary ontological categories of everyday life: object and person. Investigates which particular kinds of objects one can distinguish and what distinguishes artifacts from living things.

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                                                                        • Thomasson, Amie L. Ordinary Objects. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195319910.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          Defends the existence of ordinary objects against a variety of arguments that testify to their nonexistence, addressing along the way a number of major issues about analyticity, identity conditions, colocation, vagueness, overdetermination, parsimony, and ontological commitment. Concludes that many disputes in ontology are pseudodebates because a consensus is lacking about which metaphysical principles are appropriate for addressing such fundamental questions as “What exists?”

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                                                                          Artifacts in Formal Ontologies

                                                                          In the final decades of the 20th century, the field of applied ontology has developed, where ideas from metaphysics and philosophical otology inform the construction of formal ontologies for various professional fields, often with a view to the implementation of systems of automated reasoning and other applications of artificial intelligence. Prime targets are medicine and engineering. Many such formal ontologies are ontologies of or including technical artifacts, which figure both as tools in professional practices and industrial processes and as products of industrial processes. Simons and Dement 1996 and Lawson 2008 are studies that aim to solve the philosophical problems surrounding artifacts but with a view to be truthful of the practices in which they are involved. Borgo and Vieu 2009 gives an overview of what formal ontologies of artifacts aim for and elaborate a particular ontology. Mizoguchi and Kitamura 2009 likewise presents a formal ontology aimed to be applicable to industrial processes. Garbacz 2009 shows how to formalize a theory of artifacts as designed objects, as a preliminary to application in formal systems.

                                                                          • Borgo, S., and L. Vieu. “Artefacts in Formal Ontology.” In Philosophy of Technology and Engineering Sciences. Edited by Anthonie Meijers, 273–307. Handbook of the Philosophy of Science 20. Amsterdam: North-Holland, 2009.

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                                                                            Gives an overview of several ways in which artifacts are incorporated in ontologies in the field of applied ontology, concentrating on formal (i.e., expressed in a logical language) and foundational (i.e., focusing on general and basic concepts) ontologies. Additionally one particular ontology, DOLCE, is presented and defended in detail.

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                                                                            • Garbacz, P. “What Is an Artefact Design?” Techne: Research in Philosophy and Technology 13 (2009): 137–149.

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                                                                              Presents a first-order formal theory of artifact designs; designs that are construed as the results of designing activities, inspired by the ideas of the Polish philosopher Roman Ingarden. These ideas serve as a basis for a better understanding of what artifacts are. The theory allows for the distinction between artifact tokens and artifact types and has as one of its implications that at least some artifacts are determined by more than one design.

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                                                                              • Lawson, C. “An Ontology of Technology: Artefacts, Relations and Functions.” Techne: Research in Philosophy and Technology 12 (2008): 48–64.

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                                                                                Proposes an ontology that is intended to be both acceptable to critics of ontology and useful for people engaged in technology. Extending recent developments in social ontology to technology, advances a conception of technology as irreducibly social but still upholds a distinction between technical objects and other artifacts. Introduces different kinds of causal powers to achieve this.

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                                                                                • Mizoguchi, R., and Y. Kitamura. “A Functional Ontology of Artifacts.” The Monist 92 (2009): 387–402.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.5840/monist200992322Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  Presents a formal ontology in which devices are central and that takes the function of an artifact (i.e., how humans use them to realize their goals) to be its defining feature. Defends this ontology as adequate for supporting the exchange of knowledge for supporting engineering design.

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                                                                                  • Simons, P., and C. Dement. “Aspects of the Mereology of Artifacts.” In Formal Ontology. Edited by R. Poli and P. Simons, 255–276. Dordrecht, The Netherlands, and Boston: Kluwer Academic, 1996.

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                                                                                    Presents steps in the direction of a general ontology of artifacts, in particular by distinguishing various conceptions of “part” and of “mereological configuration” pertinent to (technical) artifacts.

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                                                                                    Technical Artifacts

                                                                                    Technical artifacts are special among all artifacts in that their material makeup is crucial to what they are. Technical artifacts are instruments with a specific function, made to be used for a purpose or to be installed as components in larger artifacts that are so used. If the makeup of any of them were other than it is (in a working copy) or than it is meant to be, we would not be able to use them for the things we need to do, or they would not be able to do the things they were produced for. One blown fuse can reduce an electric drill to a useless piece of matter. The first subsection contains references related to one particular recent account of technical artifacts. The second subsection contains references that discuss various philosophical aspects of the functions of technical artifacts.

                                                                                    The “Dual Nature” View of Technical Artifacts

                                                                                    An approach terming itself the “dual nature” view holds that a material or structural description and a functional description are both necessary for a complete description of technical artifacts. In contrast to biological items, this sort of duality is not in itself problematic, once the special status of intentionality is accepted: technical artifacts clearly have an intentional side to them in that they are designed by people to be used by people. This still leaves open many questions concerning how an artifact’s function and structure are to be characterized and how they hang together. After all, any specific technical artifact can often be used in more than one way and for other purposes than the one for which it was designed: and the design of an artifact for a specific purpose can be achieved in many different ways, resulting in quite different structures. Kroes 2012 presents an overview by the main author of this view. A wide spectrum of related questions is discussed in Kroes and Meijers 2006. Both Schyfter 2009 and Vaesen 2011 criticize the “dual nature” view as being one-sided in specific ways, criticism that is countered in Houkes, et al. 2011. Specifically with respect to the functions of technical artifacts, Houkes and Vermaas 2010 has developed the “dual nature” view into an analysis of their own. De Vries 2008 discusses an earlier proponent of a similar view.

                                                                                    • de Vries, M. J. “Gilbert Simondon and the Dual Nature of Technical Artifacts.” Techne: Research in Philosophy and Technology 12 (2008): 23–35.

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                                                                                      Presents the views of the French philosopher of technology Simondon (b. 1924–d. 1989) and compares it to current ideas on the character of technical artifacts.

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                                                                                      • Houkes, W., P. Kroes, A. Meijers, and P. E. Vermaas. “Dual-Nature and Collectivist Frameworks for Technical Artefacts: A Constructive Comparison.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 42 (2011): 198–205.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2010.11.002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        Compares the dual-nature approach and the collectivist approach advocated by Schyfter as two frameworks for analyzing technical artifacts. Argues that the two approaches have a significant overlap but that elsewhere the dual-nature approach gives a more satisfactory account. Additionally comments on Vaesen 2011.

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                                                                                        • Houkes, Wybo, and Pieter E. Vermaas. Technical Functions: On the Design and Use of Artefacts. Dordrecht, The Netherlands, and New York: Springer, 2010.

                                                                                          DOI: 10.1007/978-90-481-3900-2Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          A study of technical artifacts that focuses on their being functional objects: objects designed for serving a purpose. Defends the view that artifacts and their functions must be understood on the basis of human action, in particular the socially structured practices of designing and of using.

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                                                                                          • Kroes, P., and Anthonie Meijers. “The Dual Nature of Technical Artefacts.” Special Issue: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 37 (2006): 1–158.

                                                                                            DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2005.12.001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            Contains eight research papers discussing various philosophical aspects of (and problems concerning) technical artifacts, from the perspective of the thesis that technical artifacts have two “natures,” one of being physical-material objects and another of being objects with a function deriving from human intentionality. Topics discussed are functions and the relation to structure, the role of the social, their ontological status, and normative aspects.

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                                                                                            • Kroes, Peter. Technical Artefacts: Creations of Mind and Matter. Dordrecht, The Netherlands, and New York: Springer, 2012.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-3940-6Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              A book-length defense of the “dual nature” view of technical artifacts, that is, artifacts designed and produced by modern engineering. Emphasizes what distinguishes them from natural objects, a difference grounded in the fact that technical artifacts are designed to have the structure they have, to make them fit for serving human purposes.

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                                                                                              • Schyfter, P. “The Bootstrapped Artefact: A Collectivist Account of Technological Ontology, Functions, and Normativity.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 40 (2009): 102–111.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2008.12.006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                Criticizes the “dual nature” conception of technical artifacts for focusing too strongly on technological function, missing what is ultimately a social phenomenon. Puts forward a complementary analytic approach to this problem based on the strong program’s performative theory of social institutions, particularly Martin Kusch’s work.

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                                                                                                • Vaesen, K. “The Functional Bias of the Dual Nature of Technical Artefacts Program.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 42 (2011): 190–197.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2010.11.001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  Criticizes the “dual nature” conception of technical artifacts for too narrowly interpreting the intentional component of artifacts as their function. Inclusion of nonfunctional intentional aspects of artifacts, such as their marketability and ease of manufacture, lead to more satisfactory explanations of the design and the normativity of artifacts.

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                                                                                                  Technical Artifacts as Functional Objects

                                                                                                  The view that technical artifacts are functional objects gives rise to philosophical questions in a much broader context than the “dual nature” view of technical artifacts. Verbeek and Vermaas 2009 presents an overview of different conceptions of technical artifacts. An overarching concern is how the notion of technical function relates to the notion of function used elsewhere, notably in biology, which is an important issue in Krohs and Kroes 2009. Restricted to technical artifacts, various issues emerge from the question of how the notions of function and use are linked with the physical capacities that enable an artifact to be used in accord with its function and which other concepts play a role in this linkage: for example, whether a general account of this relation can be given, as argued in Krohs 2009, or whether either the designer of an artifact or the way it is used have priority in determining an artifact’s function, given that they can be in conflict. There is also the concern of how the factor of intentionality is distributed over users, designers, society, and perhaps others, which is discussed in particular in Preston 2009. What role specific forms of knowledge play is discussed in Hughes 2009. Function may not be a unitary concept; Crilly 2010 discusses different notions of function for artifacts, including technical artifacts. The general question of how artifacts as functional objects can support normative judgments is treated in Franssen 2009. Still another issue is how to analyze the activity of designing technical artifacts and what the status of a design or a “conceived artifact” is; Bucciarelli 2000 presents a specific view, but much more is still to be said. Discrepancies between the philosophical analysis of artifacts and the technician’s intuitive conceptions are the topic of Frederik, et al. 2010.

                                                                                                  • Bucciarelli, L. L. “Object and Social Artifact in Engineering Design.” In The Empirical Turn in the Philosophy of Technology. Edited by Peter Kroes and Anthonie Meijers, 67–80. Research in Philosophy and Technology 20. Amsterdam: Journalist Association of India, 2000.

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                                                                                                    Defends the view that technical artifacts are social constructs, in the sense that they are products whose design and development is not under the control of (and not completely understood by) any one individual. Different forms of description and control are made from the perspective of different “object worlds” to which the various individuals who contribute to their making adhere.

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                                                                                                    • Crilly, N. “The Roles that Artefacts Play: Technical, Social and Aesthetic Functions.” Design Studies 31 (2010): 311–344.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1016/j.destud.2010.04.002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      Argues for a wider interpretation of the notion of an artifact’s function, extending it beyond just their use for the realization of physical goals (e.g., transportation) to include the realization of nonphysical goals such as social recognition.

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                                                                                                      • Franssen, M. “Artefacts and Normativity.” In Philosophy of Technology and Engineering Sciences. Edited by Anthonie Meijers, 923–952. Handbook of the Philosophy of Science 20. Amsterdam: North-Holland, 2009.

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                                                                                                        Discusses the normativity of artifacts in relation to their status as neutral instruments. Presents an analysis of normative, evaluative judgments of artifacts as expressing their instrumental value and analyzes this value in the reasons that the properties of artifacts give people for or against using them to realize their purposes.

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                                                                                                        • Frederik, I., W. Sonneveld, and M. J. de Vries. “Teaching and Learning the Nature of Technical Artifacts.” International Journal of Technology and Design Education 21.3 (2010): 277–290.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1007/s10798-010-9119-3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          Develops a conceptualization of technical artifacts that can be used for educational purposes drawing from the philosophy of technology. Additionally, presents the results of a small exploratory empirical study to see to what extent teachers’ intuitive ideas about artifacts match with the way philosophers write about the nature of artifacts and suggests a strategy for improving teachers’ concepts.

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                                                                                                          • Hughes, J. “An Artifact Is to Use: An Introduction to Instrumental Functions.” Synthese 168 (2009): 179–199.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1007/s11229-008-9335-5Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            Criticizes an overemphasis in conceptions of function on functional explanations to the neglect of the practical role of functional knowledge and introduces and discusses the concept of instrumental function, intended to capture the features of functional claims that are relevant to practical (in particular instrumental) reasoning.

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                                                                                                            • Krohs, Ulrich. “Structure and Coherence of Two-Model-Descriptions of Technical Artefacts.” Techne: Research in Philosophy and Technology 13 (2009): 150–161.

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                                                                                                              Argues that the two ways we have for describing artifacts—by means of a physical model of their structure and dynamics and by a functional account of the contributions of the components of an artifact to its capacities—do not compete but supplement each other and cohere, due to the notion of function, which maps role-contributions to structural relations.

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                                                                                                              • Krohs, Ulrich, and Peter Kroes, eds. Functions in Biological and Artificial Worlds: Comparative Philosophical Perspectives. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                Contains ten essays that discuss various aspects of the functions of technical artifacts and the functions of sociological items in a comparative way.

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                                                                                                                • Preston, B. “Philosophical Theories of Artifact Function.” In Philosophy of Technology and Engineering Sciences. Edited by Anthonie Meijers, 213–233. Handbook of the Philosophy of Science 20. Amsterdam: North-Holland, 2009.

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                                                                                                                  Discusses conceptions of artifact functions in contrast to theories of biological functions and attacks the view that artifact functions can be straightforwardly taken to be grounded in human intentions, by which all problems that seem to occur in relation to them would derive from problematic aspects of intentionality.

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                                                                                                                  • Verbeek, P. P., and P. E. Vermaas. “Technological Artifacts.” In A Companion to the Philosophy of Technology. Edited by J. K. Berg Olsen, S. A. Pedersen, and V. F. Hendricks, 165–171. Blackwell Companions to Philosophy 43. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1002/9781444310795Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    Discusses four conceptions of technical artifacts: as objects designed for a purpose, objects emerging from social processes governed by interests, objects modifying and extending the status of the human capacity for action, and objects partly making up the human life-world. Contains an extensive bibliography.

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                                                                                                                    Artifacts in the Philosophy of Antiquity

                                                                                                                    The study of philosophical problems related to artifacts does not have much of a history. As far as modern Western philosophy is concerned, there are only a few scattered remarks in the metaphysics of the early modern age, for example, in the works of Hobbes and Locke, which are referred to in the section Existence and Identity of Artifacts. In ancient and medieval philosophy, artifacts as a category of things (rather than “art”—technè—as an activity, which one can find discussed repeatedly in Plato) have a place in the philosophy of Aristotle almost exclusively. Aristotle’s metaphysics, in the context of which artifacts figure, is still exercising a considerable influence on modern metaphysics, notwithstanding the difficulties of interpretation due to the distance in time and culture. Aristotle’s view of artifacts is therefore still an important topic of philosophical research. The only book-length study, Katayama 1999, aims to give a complete overview. Shields 2008 and Koslicki 1997 focus on the distinction Aristotle makes between artifacts and organisms, the latter pointing out a relevance to other themes in current philosophy. Aristotle’s views were revived in the Middle Ages foremost by Aquinas, who is discussed in Rota 2004.

                                                                                                                    • Katayama, Errol G. Aristotle on Artifacts: A Metaphysical Puzzle. SUNY Series in Ancient Greek Philosophy. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                      The only book-length study dedicated to Aristotle’s views on the ontological status of artifacts, with implications for a variety of metaphysical problems. Covers his theory of art and nature expounded in the metaphysics and challenges the prevailing view that according to Aristotle all living beings are substances.

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                                                                                                                      • Koslicki, K. “Four-Eighths Hephaistos: Artifacts and Living Things in Aristotle.” History of Philosophy Quarterly 14 (1997): 77–98.

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                                                                                                                        Argues that, according to Aristotle, the material composition of living organisms is essential to them, whereas artifacts could be made of other matter than they are actually made of. This means that multiple realizability applies to artifacts but not to organisms, which goes against the so-called functionalist interpretation of Aristotle’s “philosophy of mind,” initially proposed by Putnam and Nussbaum.

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                                                                                                                        • Rota, M. “Substance and Artifact in Thomas Aquinas.” History of Philosophy Quarterly 21 (2004): 241–259.

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                                                                                                                          Argues that the view on the metaphysical status of artifacts commonly ascribed to Aquinas, that no artifact is a substance, is more nuanced, and attempts to determine Aquinas’s actual position on the relationship between substances and artifacts. Proposes a criterion for determining whether something is a single substance or an aggregate of several substances.

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                                                                                                                          • Shields, C. “Substance and Life in Aristotle.” Apeiron 41 (2008): 129–151.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1515/APEIRON.2008.41.3.129Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            Explicates and defends Aristotle’s contention that all and only living beings are substances and that artifacts are never substances.

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                                                                                                                            Artifacts, Artworks, and the Ontology of Art

                                                                                                                            The literature on the ontological status of those artifacts that are artworks is almost as extensive as the literature on the ontological status of artifacts in general. However, there are important differences. The metaphysics of artifacts universally takes artifacts to be material objects, objects constituted by a certain quantity of matter. This is not true for artworks; some philosophers or theoreticians of art take artworks to be events, processes or actions, or of a kind similar to these. The issue is then rather the role that the material artifact, if there is one, has in the work of art. But some artworks, such as musical works or oral literature, do not (or at least not necessarily) involve a material artifact. Another difference with the literature on artifacts per se is that the role of the societal contexts is treated more extensively, and in some views the ontological status of the artwork is even grounded in the societal or institutional context (e.g., Dickie 1974). References that take this wider perspective are to be found in the Oxford Bibliographies entry on the philosophy of art. Livingston 2011 presents a good overview of the various positions adopted in the past. Further references here are restricted to those that discuss the status of material artifacts or material objects as artworks, or as crucial for artworks. Of these, Levinson 2002 explicitly discusses the relation between artifacts that are artworks and ordinary artifacts. Hanfling 1995 even argues that the differences are not all that important and that artworks can also be seen as functional objects. According to the institutional conception in Dickie 1974, it is the institutional context that makes an object into an artwork. Various authors, including Sankowski 1980 and Fletcher 1982, attack this view for being too lenient on allowing even natural objects to be promoted to artworks, but Wieand 1980 and Tillinghast 2003 defend it against these objections. Dilworth 2001 defends a noninstitutional view, in which artifacts are crucial to but distinct from artworks.

                                                                                                                            • Dickie, George. Art and the Aesthetic: An Institutional Analysis. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1974.

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                                                                                                                              Defends an institutional theory of art: artwork is any artifact on which some person(s) acting on behalf of a certain social institution has conferred the status of candidate for appreciation.

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                                                                                                                              • Dilworth, J. B. “A Representational Theory of Artefacts and Artworks.” British Journal of Aesthetics 41 (2001): 353–370.

                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1093/bjaesthetics/41.4.353Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                Argues that an artwork is not identical to an associated artifact, but that nevertheless an artwork is an autograph, as is the artifact. The identity relations of artifact and artwork differ. Argues instead for a representational view: the artifact associated with an artwork represents the artwork.

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                                                                                                                                • Fletcher, J. J. “Artifactuality Broadly and Narrowly Speaking.” Southern Journal of Philosophy 20 (1982): 41–52.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1111/j.2041-6962.1982.tb00276.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  Endorses the critique that Dickie interprets the notion of artifact in his definition too broadly and argues that being an artifact in a narrow sense is a necessary condition for being a work of art.

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                                                                                                                                  • Hanfling, O. “Art, Artifact and Function.” Philosophical Investigations 18 (1995): 31–48.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9205.1995.tb00310.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    Argues that works of art, like other artifacts, can be defined in terms of their function, which is to provide aesthetic satisfaction. Also discusses the question of how to define “aesthetic” in a noncircular way.

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                                                                                                                                    • Levinson, J. “The Irreducible Historicality of the Concept of Art.” British Journal of Aesthetics 42 (2002): 367–379.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1093/bjaesthetics/42.4.367Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      Explicates how the intentional-historical theory of art proposed by the author in 1979 attributes to art a certain irreducible historicality and defends this theory against a number of objections that have been raised against it. Additionally discusses the similarities and differences between ordinary artifact concepts and the concept of an artwork.

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                                                                                                                                      • Livingston, P. “History of the Ontology of Art.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by Edward N. Zalta. 2011.

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                                                                                                                                        Contains an extensive presentation of philosophical ideas on the ontological status of artworks throughout the 20th century.

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                                                                                                                                        • Sankowski, E. “Free Action, Social Institutions, and the Definition of Art.” Philosophical Studies 37 (1980): 67–79.

                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1007/BF00353504Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          Endorses Dickie’s definition according to which being an artifact, that is, having been worked on, is a necessary condition for being a work of art. Criticizes Dickie for seemingly allowing natural objects merely picked up and displayed to count as artifacts.

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                                                                                                                                          • Tillinghast, L. “The Classificatory Sense of ‘Art.’” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 61 (2003): 133–148.

                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1111/1540-6245.00101Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            States that Dickie’s institutional theory of artworks is taken to be either circular or incapable of distinguishing artwork from nonartworks but continues to reject the assumption that the classificatory sense of “art” should apply only to some kinds of artifacts but not to others: thus, institutionalism does become sufficient to distinguish works of art from what are not works of art in the classificatory sense.

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                                                                                                                                            • Wieand, J. “Defining Art and Artifacts.” Philosophical Studies 38 (1980): 385–390.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1007/BF00419337Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              Counters Sankowski’s critique of Dickie by claiming that it is the display of the natural object, which has certainly been “worked on,” that can count as the relevant artifact in Dickie’s definition.

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                                                                                                                                              Artifacts versus Nature as a Metaphysical Problem

                                                                                                                                              Some philosophers see the opposition between artifact and nature, or between artifact and living organism, as fundamental. This is not a generally held view, however. Wiggins 2001 (cited under Existence and Identity of Artifacts), for example, explicitly states that the three dichotomies—natural-kind-of-thing versus artifact, natural-in-origin versus artificial or synthetic, and living versus nonliving—are three independent distinctions. Likewise, the metaphysical and epistemological literature on natural kinds takes their “naturalness” to be only very loosely related to the concept of “nature” as it figures in opposition to “humankind” or “the artificial.” There are two contexts in which the opposition between artifact and nature is seen as particularly relevant and meriting discussion. One context concerns the character of the living and of teleology, where a dividing line separating different descriptions of reality is studied, articulated in terms of the notions of function and purposiveness, which is different from the more generally acknowledged dividing line associated with intentionality. McLaughlin 2001 discusses the relation between function and purposiveness in an Aristotelian vein and adds a relation to self-reproduction, whereas Illetterati 2008 and Toepfer 2008 adopt a Kantian perspective on the relation between function and purpose. Gasser 2008 links function not to purpose but to development. Lewens 2005 explicitly addresses the analogies between artifacts and organisms that the shared use of function talk points to. Twenty-first-century developments in biotechnology and nanotechnology pose new problems for a clear-cut division between the artificial and the natural, as discussed in Guchet 2009, Deplazes and Huppenbauer 2009, and Karafyllis 2003. The second context concerns the normative limits to the activity of humans in changing their environment. Problem areas that belong to this context are environmental protection and conservation and medicine and human enhancement. The former is treated in more detail below, in the section Artifacts vs. Nature in the Context of Environmental Studies. The latter is a relatively recent development, receiving attention primarily from a general ethical perspective. Serious philosophical research approaching it from an interest in the artifact-nature dichotomy, such as Clark 2007, is much more rare.

                                                                                                                                              • Clark, A. “Re-Inventing Ourselves: The Plasticity of Embodiment, Sensing, and Mind.” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 32 (2007): 263–282.

                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/03605310701397024Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                Explores the difference between a radical view of human enhancement as literally extending agents and a standard view of having agents use tools through some new interface. Also argues that the radical result is well within our scientific reach, not due to the advancement of our science but due to our native biological plasticity. Relates this to fears concerning technologies for improving human performance.

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                                                                                                                                                • Deplazes, A., and M. Huppenbauer. “Synthetic Organisms and Living Machines: Positioning the Products of Synthetic Biology at the Borderline between Living and Non-Living Matter.” Systems and Synthetic Biology 3 (2009): 55–63.

                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1007/s11693-009-9029-4Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  Discusses where, at the borderline between living and nonliving matter, the various future products of synthetic biology should be placed and how the realization of such hybrid entities affects our understanding of organisms and machines. Argues that the purpose is more decisive for the categorization of something as an organism or a machine than its origin and points out the ethical implications of this view.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Gasser, G. “Lebewesen und Artefakte: Ontologische Unterscheidungen.” Philosophisches Jahrbuch 115 (2008): 125–147.

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                                                                                                                                                    Discusses the question of whether there is a clear-cut demarcation between artifacts and living things. Rejects homeostasis/metabolism and directness at its own continued existence as criteria. Settles upon organic unity and possibility of growth and development as discriminating criterion.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Guchet, X. “Nature and Artifact in Nanotechnologies.” Hyle 15 (2009): 5–14.

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                                                                                                                                                      Questions the idea that nanotechnology blurs the boundary between nature and artifact. This idea is grounded in a metaphysical distinction between what things are and what they do that cannot be upheld, as shown by nanotechnology. Instead, nature should be seen as a set of processes, in which technological processes blend.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Illetterati, L. “Being-For: Purposes and Functions in Artefacts and Living Beings.” In Purposiveness: Teleology between Nature and Mind. Edited by Luca Illetterati and Francesca Michelini, 135–162. New Brunswick, NJ: Ontos-Verlag, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                        With the Kantian distinction between internal and external purposiveness as the starting point, the author argues that there is an ontological difference between naturally organized objects such as organisms and the products of human art and technique: therefore, a unitary conception of teleology and function across the biological and artifactual realms is impossible.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Karafyllis, Nicole C., ed. Biofakte: Versuch über den Menschen zwischen Artefakt und Lebewesen. Paderborn, Germany: Mentis, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                          Combines a number of contributions exploring the fading boundaries between biological organism and technical artifact due to developments in bio- and nanotechnology.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Lewens, Tim. Organisms and Artifacts: Design in Nature and Elsewhere. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                            Argues that the use of the concept of function in biology shows that biologists look upon organisms as analogous to artifacts and continues to investigate the extent of the analogy: in particular the extent to which biological functions and artifact functions are analogical, claiming there are similarities of organisms being analogous to artifacts and of artifacts behaving similar to organisms, but also important dissimilarities.

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                                                                                                                                                            • McLaughlin, Peter. What Functions Explain: Functional Explanation and Self-Reproducing Systems. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                              Examines functional explanations in biology and the social sciences and argues that causal functional explanation can apply only to objects that are self-reproducing, that is, maintain themselves in a particular state by some sort of metabolism and repair of internal structures.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Toepfer, G. “Teleology in Natural Organized Systems and in Artefacts: Interdependence of Processes versus External Design.” In Purposiveness: Teleology between Nature and Mind. Edited by Luca Illetterati and Francesca Michelini, 163–181. New Brunswick, NJ: Ontos-Verlag, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                Argues, on the same Kantian lines as Illetterati, for a distinction between a circular conception of teleology at work in the natural world and a linear conception in the human world of intentionality and artifacts.

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                                                                                                                                                                Abstract Artifacts and Fictional Objects

                                                                                                                                                                A large variety of abstract artifacts can be distinguished, associated with distinct disciplines for which they are of central importance: art (novels, symphonies), social science (laws, institutions), and mathematics (numbers, sets). The status of the first two as artifacts, that is, entities for whose “existence” humans are responsible, is not contested. They are dealt with by references in the sections specifically dedicated to the corresponding disciplines: Artifacts, Artworks, and the Ontology of Art and Social Artifacts. The status of numbers or sets as artifacts, however, is quite controversial. They will not be dealt with here but in the Oxford Bibliographies entry on the Philosophy of Mathematics. The references in this section concern the status of entities occurring in novels, films, stories, and the like: their ontological character is hardly a topic of study for the discipline that studies their “habitat,” the philosophy of art. Thomasson 2009 is an overview of the various positions adopted, and Thomasson 1999 is a defense of the reality of fictional characters. Salmon 1998 likewise presents a detailed theory of fictional objects as abstract artifacts, a theory criticized in Sawyer 2002. A moderate view is offered in Voltolini 2009.

                                                                                                                                                                • Salmon, N. U. “Nonexistence.” Noûs 32 (1998): 277–319.

                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1111/0029-4624.00101Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  Presents a detailed theory on how sentences in which nonexistent entities, in particular fictional characters, acquire their meaning.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Sawyer, S. “Abstract Artifacts in Pretence.” Philosophical Papers 31 (2002): 183–198.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/05568640209485101Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    Criticizes Salmon’s introduction of abstract artifacts as the referents of fictional names. Argues that the theory of “pretence” required by Salmon to secure references to the right abstract artifacts renders the appeal to abstract artifacts explanatory redundant.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Thomasson, A. L. “Fictional Entities.” In A Companion to Metaphysics. 2d ed. Edited by Jaegwon Kim, E. Sosa, and Gary S. Rosenkrantz, 10–18. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Presents a critical overview of philosophical positions on the ontological status of fictional entities.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Thomasson, Amie L. Fiction and Metaphysics. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Presents an artifactual theory of fiction, according to which fictional characters are abstract artifacts similar to laws and symphonies.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Voltolini, A. “The Seven Consequences of Creationism.” Metaphysica 10 (2009): 27–48.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1007/s12133-008-0038-7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          Investigates the ontological and semantical consequences of the position that fictional characters are abstract artifacts. Defends moderate creationism, according to which “ficta” are created by means of a reflexive stance on the make-believe practice grounding them, as the best form of this position.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Social Artifacts

                                                                                                                                                                          There is no well-established concept of a social artifact, but the term is often used to refer to entities that are intentionally and purposefully constructed by people—typically many people together either at a particular moment or during a longer period—and that are not necessarily materially realized, by which they differ from ordinary or technical artifacts. They exist and persist, therefore, not in virtue of their material realization but through the continuous actions and beliefs of people. What they have in common with technical artifacts, however, is that they serve purposes and are designed, constructed, and maintained in order to serve these purposes. Examples are organizational bodies such as companies or governments and institutions such as money or marriage. No comprehensive philosophical treatment of social artifacts in which the category is delineated and a taxonomy is presented yet exists. The work of Searle 1995 and Searle 2010 is considered particularly relevant and can be seen as a first step in its direction. There is obviously an overlap with the philosophy of the social sciences but also with the philosophy of mind and psychology, with regard to the notion of collective intentionality, which is used to criticize Searle in Miller 2005. A completely different and idiosyncratic but nevertheless influential view is Luhmann 1984, which looks upon social systems as instrument rather than artifacts. Taking a technological perspective, Franssen and Kroes 2009 presents sociotechnical systems as artifacts whose material substratum is hybrid: partly physical partly social.

                                                                                                                                                                          • Franssen, M., and P. Kroes. “Sociotechnical Systems.” In A Companion to the Philosophy of Technology. Edited by Jann K. Berg Olsen, S. A. Pedersen, and Vincent F. Hendricks, 223–226. Blackwell Companions to Philosophy 43. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1002/9781444310795Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            Offers a brief discussion of the special character of artifacts that incorporate social factors and form the extreme in scale and complexity: typically infrastructures of various kinds—for transportation, energy provision, and information transmission—and often spanning the entire globe. Discusses the consequences of their hybridity: that is, the fact that they not only consist of technical hardware devices but also of people in various roles.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Luhmann, Niklas. Soziale Systeme: Grundriß einer allgemeinen Theorie. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Key text of an author who has written extensively on social systems. Analyzes them as instruments for the processing of meaning, maintained by a process called autopoiesis, and as not containing individual people. Translated in English as Social Systems (Stanford University Press, 1995).

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Miller, S. “Artefacts and Collective Intentionality.” Techne: Research in Philosophy and Technology 9 (2005).

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                                                                                                                                                                                Criticizes Searle’s account both of technical artifacts such as ordinary tools and institutional artifacts such as money.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Searle, John R. The Construction of Social Reality. New York: Free Press, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Develops the notion of status functions as being determined not by physical structure at all but by social agreement, so-called constitutive rules. Discusses particularly money as formed by entities with status functions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Searle, John R. Making the Social World: The Structure of Human Civilization. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Further develops the ideas from The Construction of Social Reality (Searle 1995) to emphasize the view that facts about the social worlds exist because we think they exist, and discusses the conditions under which this is possible.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Artifacts in Science and Technology Studies

                                                                                                                                                                                    Science and technology studies aim to provide a social-scientific perspective on the practices of science and technology and their products—scientific theories and explanations as well as engineered products and services. It emphasizes empirical studies of these practices and applies explanatory models developed for the social sciences. This field has tended to develop at short distance from the philosophical inquiry of artifacts and technology and somewhat as a competitor of such inquiry, suggesting new concepts and problems (see Pinch and Bijker 1987). In return, it has come to share in the critical character of philosophical research, subject to scrutiny in particular concerning its methodology and its attitude toward the ethical and moral dimension of artifacts and technology, as in Russell 1986, with Pinch and Bijker 1986 replying, and in Winner 1993. An important development within science and technology studies is a distinction between an approach that looks upon artifacts passively, as the objects of interpretation and construction, as in Pinch and Bijker 1987, and an approach that looks upon them actively, as on a par with humans in acting and thereby codetermining the action context of other people and artifacts. This latter approach, called “actor-network theory,” advocates a group of researchers around Bruno Latour (Law 1986) and is critically discussed in Preda 2000 and Reckwitz 2002. In the wider context of technology in general, further references can be found in the Oxford Bibliographies entry on Philosophy of Technology.

                                                                                                                                                                                    • Law, John, ed. Power, Action and Belief: A New Sociology of Knowledge? London and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Contains contributions by Latour, Callon, Law, and others that present and develop actor-network theory, which adopts a symmetric approach to the study of the development of technical artifacts and more generally of science and technology, meaning that artifacts “push back” on humans just as much as humans push artifacts, such that humans and artifacts deserve to be jointly conceptualized as “actants.”

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Pinch, T. J., and W. E. Bijker. “Science, Relativism and the New Sociology of Technology: Reply to Russell.” Social Studies of Science 16 (1986): 347–360.

                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/0306312786016002009Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                        Defends taking the same approach to the study of science and technology by treating them both as knowledge systems. From their viewpoint, knowledge is something active.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Pinch, T. J., and W. E. Bijker. “The Social Construction of Facts and Artifacts: Or How the Sociology of Science and the Sociology of Technology Might Benefit Each Other.” In The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology. Edited by Wiebe E. Bijker, T. P. Hughes, and T. J. Pinch, 17–50. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Classical paper extending the social-scientific, constructivist study of scientific practices to technology, in which the notions of the social construction of technology and the “interpretative flexibility” of technical artifacts are introduced and argued for, primarily through a few case studies. Originally published in Social Studies of Science 14 (1984): 399–441.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Preda, A. “Order with Things? Humans, Artifacts, and the Sociological Problem of Rule-Following.” Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 30 (2000): 269–298.

                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1111/1468-5914.00130Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                            Addresses the question of whether we should accept artifacts as active co-constituents of the social order, as the proponents of actor-network theory do. Argues that a distinction should be made between methodological and ontological symmetry and that ontological asymmetry between humans and artifacts need not be considered as given or natural but can be shown to be a consequence of methodological symmetry.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Reckwitz, A. “The Status of the ‘Material’ in Theories of Culture: From ‘Social Structure’ to ‘Artefacts.’” Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 32 (2002): 195–217.

                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1111/1468-5914.00183Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                              Discusses the symmetry thesis of actor-network theory (Latour, Callon) in combination with practice theory (Schatzki).

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Russell, S. “The Social Construction of Artefacts: Response to Pinch and Bijker.” Social Studies of Science 16 (1986): 331–346.

                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1177/0306312786016002008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                Argues against Pinch and Bijker’s constructivist approach that its social analysis is superficial and that their methodological relativism tends toward political neutrality. The starting point of technology studies should be political commitment to demonstrating the possibility of alternative technologies for alternative goals and opening up the process of technological development in design to groups of society denied access to it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Winner, L. “Upon Opening the Black Box and Finding It Empty: Social Constructivism and the Philosophy of Technology.” Science Technology and Human Values 18 (1993): 362–378.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1177/016224399301800306Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Criticizes the social-constructivist approach to the development of technical artifacts and systems as being overly descriptive and lacking an evaluative outlook, which causes this work to be of limited value with respect to the major philosophical, social, and political issues concerning technology.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ethical and Political Aspects

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Behind many discussions of the ethical and political, or more generally normative, aspects of artifacts, is their supposed neutrality, summarized in the phrase “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” Artifacts are tools that can be used for good or bad purposes, but when viewed as mere tools, in abstraction of any specific use, they are neither good nor bad. Many studies set out to question, qualify, or flatly deny this. Winner 1980 is a classical denial, receiving critical comments in Joerges 1999 and Woolgar and Cooper 1999. Woodruff 1997 criticizes the neutrality issue as too simply posed. Coeckelbergh 2009 investigates how our conception of the social should change to make room for Winner’s conception of “artifact politics.” A related topic, which has started to receive attention more recently, is the question of whether artifacts carry value not as instruments of human agency but as agents. The view originates in the work of Latour 1992, which is taken up sympathetically in Waelbers 2009 and attacked in Peterson and Spahn 2011. Illies and Meijers 2009 offers an alternative account of the active moral role of artifacts in our society. A quite different issue of ethical relevance in relation to artifacts is the question of to what extent the overwhelming availability of artifacts has actually been beneficial to us and made our lives better, not just for some people but generally. This issue, however, is usually treated as addressing artifacts in particular but more broadly technology, where technology is seen as a practice or “life form” rather than as collection of artifacts. References that treat this issue can be found in the Oxford Bibliographies entry on Philosophy of Technology.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Coeckelbergh, M. “The Public Thing: On the Idea of a Politics of Artefacts.” Techne: Research in Philosophy and Technology 13 (2009): 175–181.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Argues that in order to answer the question of whether artifacts have politics, a radical change in our common philosophical concepts (in particular a radical redefinition of the social) is required, which would come at the high price of losing the metaphysical foundation for our belief in the absolute value and dignity of humans.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Illies, C., and Anthonie Meijers. “Artefacts without Agency.” The Monist 92 (2009): 420–440.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.5840/monist200992324Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Accounts for the active role of artifacts in shaping our world not by the introduction of radically new conceptions of moral agency, by which artifacts would become classifiable as moral agents, but by the notion of an “action scheme” (available to an agent or agents in any given situation) and the notion of second-order responsibility for changing action schemes.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Joerges, B. “Do Politics Have Artefacts?” Social Studies of Science 29 (1999): 411–431.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/030631299029003004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Criticizes Winner’s classic paper by questioning the veracity of the story of Moses’s bridges as presented by Winner and investigates the ideological reasons for framing it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Latour, B. “Where Are the Missing Masses? The Sociology of a Few Mundane Artifacts.” In Shaping Technology/Building Society: Studies in Sociotechnical Change. Edited by Wiebe E. Bijker and John Law, 225–258. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          Elaborates the claim (included in the actor-network theory of technology) that, next to people and institutions, artifacts are also part of the negotiations through which (socio)technical systems are developed. Argues that occasionally even moral behavior can be delegated to artifact: for instance, in the case of seat belts and speed bumps.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Peterson, M., and A. Spahn. “Can Technological Artefacts Be Moral Agents?” Science and Engineering Ethics 17 (2011): 411–424.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1007/s11948-010-9241-3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Argues against the thesis proposed by Latour and Verbeek that technical artifacts are moral agents alongside people. Also defends the traditional thesis that technical artifacts are neutral tools that are, at most, bearers of instrumental value.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Waelbers, K. “Technological Delegation: Responsibility for the Unintended.” Science and Engineering Ethics 15 (2009): 51–68.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1007/s11948-008-9098-xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                              On the basis of three characteristics of modern technical artifacts and technologies, this article argues that the traditional models for discussing moral responsibility are no longer adequate. Presents a schematic layout of a model based on social-role responsibility as a possible alternative.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Winner, L. D. “Do Artifacts Have Politics?” Daedalus 109 (1980): 121–136.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                Classical paper in which it is argued, through the use of several case studies—most notably that of the bridges designed by Robert Moses for the Long Island parkways—that artifacts can embody political views and programs and thus serve political aims.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Woodruff, R. “Artifacts, Neutrality, and the Ambiguity of ‘Use.’” In Technology and Social Action. Edited by Carl Mitcham, 119–127. Research in Philosophy and Technology 16. Greenwich, CT: Journalist Association of India, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Distinguishes between the act of using an artifact, the purpose for which it is used and the method of using it. Argues that artifacts may be neutral with respect to the purpose for which they are used but are never neutral with respect to the method of their use.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Woolgar, S., and G. Cooper “Do Artefacts Have Ambivalence: Moses’ Bridges, Winner’s Bridges and Other Urban Legends in S&TS.” Social Studies of Science 29 (1999): 433–449.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1177/030631299029003005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Takes up Joerges’s critique of Winner 1980 to emphasize what the authors call “the essential ambivalence” of artifacts, their lending itself to very diverse purposes that people may have in mind for them.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Legal and Institutional Issues Related to Technical Artifacts

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The concept of artifact, and its differentiation from natural objects, is of relevance to legal studies as well, in particular in relation to patent law. Recent advances in biotechnology and nanotechnology have led to the patenting or attempted patenting of entities that become increasingly difficult to distinguish from natural entities although naturally occurring entities are explicitly excluded from patents in patent law all over the world. Several studies urge a rethinking of the distinctive features of the artifactual in relation to patent law. Koepsell 2010 discusses patent law from a normative point of view, defending a position on how it should draw a line between natural and artifactual objects, whereas Carolan 2010 discusses descriptively how patent law constructs its objects in order to serve the interests of the parties involved. Hurlbut 2005 discusses the issue of controversial patenting from the perspective of a particular kind of artificial bio-object.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Carolan, M. S. “The Mutability of Biotechnology Patents: From Unwieldy Products of Nature to Independent ‘Objects.’” Theory, Culture and Society 27 (2010): 110–129.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/0263276409350360Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Argues that patent law, in order to serve the commercial interests of the business firms involved, maneuvers to distinguish discrete, immutable biological “objects” from the unpatentable realm of nature but that today’s biotechnology regime can be upheld only if patented objects are not completely fixed: in turn, this perpetuates certain inequalities between the holders of various property forms.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Hurlbut, W. B. “Patenting Humans: Clones, Chimeras, and Biological Artifacts.” Science and Engineering Ethics 11 (2005): 21–29.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1007/s11948-005-0052-xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Proposes that through a technique of altered nuclear transfer, biological artifacts may be created, which are not organisms and from which embryonic stem cells could be morally procured, thus allowing us to safeguard the moral standing of normally grown organisms. Considers criteria for patenting of such nonorganismal entities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Koepsell, D. “Authorship and Artefacts: Remaking IP Law for Future Objects.” The Monist 93 (2010): 481–492.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Argues that the state of current intellectual property law, as expressed through court opinions and regulations, is hopelessly confused due to the disregard of a clear distinction between the categories of objects involved. Attempts to clarify the relevant ontological distinctions and suggests a clear drawing of lines between “the natural” and “the artifactual” and a unified approach to all artifacts for intellectual property law.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Artifacts versus Nature in the Context of Environmental Studies

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In the context of environmental studies the notion of artifact is of particular importance because it is central to a tension present in the entire field, being that attempts to preserve nature could be seen as, ipso facto, changing the nature so preserved into an artifact. If the notions of artifact and natural object, or of artificial phenomenon and natural phenomenon, are conceived as opposites, the preservation of nature would be a self-contradicting activity as the object of the preservation is necessarily destroyed by the act of preservation. This problem has led to lively debates in which arguments from metaphysics are merged with more practical conceptions and concerns of environmental studies. Lee 1999 and Katz 1993 argue to uphold a strict distinction between the natural and the artificial, whereas Skakoon 2008, Glazebrook 2003, and Vogel 2003 question the validity of a strict distinction. Stephens 2000 and Siipi 2003 conclude from the debate that the dichotomous conceptual scheme is too simple and has to be amended. The moral significance of the distinction is in particular addressed in Lo 1999 and Katz 2002.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Glazebrook, T. “Art or Nature? Aristotle, Restoration Ecology, and Flowforms.” Ethics and the Environment 8 (2003): 22–36.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Criticizes Aristotle’s strict distinction between artifact and nature and argues that artworks can have an organic side to them where the artist interacts with the chosen material and its dynamic capacities, rather than executing a full prior conception of the work.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Katz, E. “Artefacts and Functions: A Note on the Value of Nature.” Environmental Values 2 (1993): 223–232.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.3197/096327193776679909Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Argues for a fundamental ontological distinction between artifacts, which have functions, and natural entities, that lack them. By this distinction artifacts can only be evaluated for their instrumental use, whereas the value of natural entities derives from their autonomous existence; and this difference has normative consequences in environmental policy, prescribing a minimal amount of intervention in nature.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Katz, E. “Understanding Moral Limits in the Duality of Artifacts and Nature: A Reply to Critics.” Ethics and the Environment 7 (2002): 138–146.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Defends the dualism of human artifacts and natural entities against critiques that see this dualism as pernicious in view of its normative consequences.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Lee, Keekok. The Natural and the Artefactual: The Implications of Deep Science and Deep Technology for Environmental Philosophy. Lanham, MD: Lexington, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Argues that environmental philosophy has grounded the disvalue of ecological deterioration in human consciousness as its unique source, but has neglected the ontological side. Defends a fundamental, ontological distinction between the natural and the artifactual and views an evaluation of any deterioration of the natural realm as ontological loss.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Lo, Y.-S. “Natural and Artifactual: Restored Nature as Subject.” Environmental Ethics 21 (1999): 247–266.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.5840/enviroethics199921316Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Discusses the question whether the fact that artificially restored natural entities are artifacts, ontologically different from natural entities, makes them lacking in moral value. The question is answered negatively, thus narrowing the problematic ethical gap between the wild and the tamed.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Siipi, H. “Artefacts and Living Artefacts.” Environmental Values 12 (2003): 413–430.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.3197/096327103129341388Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Argues that for something to be an artifact it requires a double condition: its being brought into existence by making it have certain properties intentionally and its being modified intentionally to acquire new functions not present in the unmodified precursor. The double condition is there for clarifying the status of problematic entities such as genetically modified organisms, gardens, and restored ecosystems.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Skakoon, E. “Nature and Human Identity.” Environmental Ethics 30 (2008): 37–49.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.5840/enviroethics200830116Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Argues against the division upheld by some environmental philosophers between our wild, natural human identity and our artifactual culture. This is said to be a position based on an incorrect view of artifacts as neutral instruments of human will, which ignores the unintended consequences created continuously by their existence and an equally incorrect interpretation of the evolutionary evidence, which suggests rather that our identity is completely artifactual.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Stephens, P. H. G. “Nature, Purity, Ontology.” Environmental Values 9 (2000): 267–294.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.3197/096327100129342065Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Defends a threefold ontological classification between nature and artifact, with reference to the extent to which nature has been humanized in accordance with certain modes of strongly instrumental rationality.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Vogel, S. “The Nature of Artifacts.” Environmental Ethics 25 (2003): 149–168.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.5840/enviroethics200325230Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Criticizes the classification by some environmental philosophers of restored nature as artifactual, as the associated conception of artifact ties their identity too strongly to human intentions. The creation of artifacts relies on forces that go beyond their creator and all artifacts are in that sense natural.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Artifacts and Cognitive Psychology

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Philosophical analysis of the metaphysical status of artifacts is paralleled in cognitive psychology by empirical research into the place that artifacts have in people’s “ordinary,” everyday classifications of the world. This concerns both the classifications of adults and the way these classifications take shape while children develop. The references included here are of the most important researchers into this topic, which is a relatively minor one within cognitive psychology. Bloom 1996 and Bloom 1998 claim that the evidence suggests that the intentions of an object’s maker, as they are perceived or conjectured, form the crucial criterion in ordinary people’s classifications, whereas Malt and Johnson 1992 and Malt and Johnson 1998 claim there is evidence that structural features shown by prototypes play this role. Related work can be found in Margolis and Laurence 2007, included in the section General Discussions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Bloom, P. “Intention, History, and Artifact Concepts.” Cognition 60 (1996): 1–29.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1016/0010-0277(95)00699-0Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Discusses our intuitions concerning which objects are members of specific artifact kinds, given that empirical research has shown that physical appearance, current use, and intended function are not at the core of artifact-kind concepts such as “chair” or “clock.” Proposes that something belongs to a particular artifact kind if it was successfully created with the intention to belong to that kind.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Bloom, P. “Theories of Artifact Categorization.” Cognition 66 (1998): 87–93.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Reply to Malt and Johnson: they cannot explain why people take some features to be more relevant than other features for any particular artifact.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Malt, B. C., and F. C. Johnson. “Do Artifact Concepts Have Cores?” Journal of Memory and Language 31 (1992): 195–217.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1016/0749-596X(92)90011-LSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Describes four experiments testing whether function is the primary determinant of how people classify artifacts: the outcome is that membership decisions seem more influenced by physical features of the objects than by functions, casting doubt on the general truth of the hypothesis that an artifact’s function is a core feature critical to category membership.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Malt, B. C., and F. C. Johnson. “Artifact Category Membership and the Intentional-History Theory.” Cognition 66 (1998): 79–85.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Holds that artifact categorization is better explained not by reference to intent but by reference to prototypes or exemplars.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Animal Artifacts

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In the background of any discussion of artifacts is the question of whether the various constructions of animals can count as artifacts. How this question is answered depends on the conception of artifact used, in particular whether artifacts are conceived first of all as structurally opposed to natural kinds, or whether they are conceived through their origin (see the section Existence and Identity of Artifacts). The more common conception is of artifacts as objects intentionally created for some purpose, but in this way only a small part of what pertains to this area of research is covered, because many tools used by animals are “ready-made” natural objects that are used as found: such as stones, twigs, branches, and leaves. The standard work giving an overview of what is known is Shumaker, et al. 2011. Studies focusing on a particular animal whose tool-using behavior is conspicuous are Weir, et al. 2002; Ottoni and Izar 2008; and Boesch and Boesch 1990. Philosophical aspects concern the amount of and nature of the cognitive capacities that must be assumed to be at work and the issue of whether behavioral evidence could replace cognitivist or mentalist interpretations. General and systematic treatments of this topic are still rare, however, and are connected to the philosophy of psychology. Vaesen 2012 is a recent contribution focusing on these issues.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Boesch, C., and H. Boesch. “Tool Use and Tool Making in Wild Chimpanzees.” Folia Primatologia 54 (1990): 86–99.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1159/000156428Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Reviews observations of tool use and tool making in three wild chimpanzee populations, with noted differences in the use of combinations of tools and in the use of abundant versus scarce materials.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Ottoni, E. B., and P. Izar. “Capuchin Monkey Tool Use: Overview and Implications.” Evolutionary Anthropology 17 (2008): 171–187.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1002/evan.20185Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Considers the evidence gathered about tool use in populations of capuchin monkeys and concludes that the use of tools by these monkeys seems a behavioral tradition that is socially learned and is primarily associated with the structure of the habitat, being more terrestrial than for other monkeys.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Shumaker, Robert W., Kristina R. Walkup, and Benjamin B. Beck. Animal Tool Behavior: The Use and Manufacture of Tools by Animals. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A comprehensive overview of the total literature on animal tool use and manufacture. Covers the entire animal kingdom, but mammals occupy three out of six chapters and monkeys and apes two out of these three. Ends with a chapter on seven myths about animal tool use. Revised and updated version of B. B. Beck, Animal Tool Behavior: The Use and Manufacture of Tools by Animals (Garland, 1980).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Vaesen, K. “The Cognitive Bases of Human Tool Use.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 35 (2012): 203–218.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/S0140525X11001452Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Synthesizes and critically assesses current scientific knowledge about the cognitive bases of human tool use, and shows how the cognitive traits reviewed help to explain why technological accumulation evolved so markedly in humans and so modestly in apes.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Weir, A., J. Chappell, and A. Kacelnik. “Shaping of Hooks in New Caledonian Crows.” Science 297 (2002): 981.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1126/science.1073433Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Famous study that showed that these birds not only use objects as tools but even deform objects to allow them to function as tools.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Artifacts as Objects of Study in Cultural Studies

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In several disciplines within social science—social and cultural anthropology, archaeology, cultural history and contemporary social studies, and history and sociology of art—artifacts form a primary source of empirical information and a central topic of study. This has led, toward the end of the 20th century, to the development of a sense of commonality, reflected in the notion of material culture and material culture studies, and an awareness of shared methodological and conceptual interests and problems. This has resulted in the publication of two overviewing works, Hicks and Beaudry 2010, concentrating more on the related disciplines, and Tilley, et al. 2006, on the concepts and theories involved. Henare, et al. 2007 and Knappett 2005 argue for unifying approaches over the boundaries between the various social-scientific disciplines studying (aspects of) material culture, whereas Hurcombe 2007 and Kingery 1996 focus on concerns of sociology and anthropology and of history and anthropology, respectively. Questions of methodology are addressed in Schiffer and Miller 1999 and Skibo and Schiffer 2008, emphasizing human behavior and physical engagement with artifacts against symbolic and interpretative approaches.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Henare, Amiria, Martin Holbraad, and Sari Wastell, eds. Thinking through Things: Theorising Artefacts Ethnographically. London: Routledge, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Collects a number of essays that jointly detect a shift in the philosophical foundations of anthropology and related disciplines by challenging the disciplinary fragmentation and arguing for the futility of segregating the study of artifacts and society.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Hicks, Dan, and Mary C. Beaudry, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Presents an overview of current thinking in the field of material culture studies through twenty-eight original essays from archaeology, anthropology, geography, and science-and-technology studies.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Hurcombe, L. M. Archaeological Artefacts as Material Culture. London: Routledge, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    An introduction to the study of artifacts as central to social science and anthropology in particular, emphasizing the social context rather than proposing a purely scientific approach.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Kingery, W. D. Learning from Things: Method and Theory of Material Culture Studies. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A collection of technical essays arguing the importance of the studying and understanding material culture for the aims of archaeologists and historians of science and technology.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Knappett, Carl. Thinking through Material Culture: An Interdisciplinary Perspective. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Presents an interdisciplinary approach to the study of material culture that is rooted in archaeology but seeks to integrate views from anthropology, sociology, art history, semiotics, psychology, and cognitive science. Argues in particular the relevance of artifacts to human cognition and perception.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Schiffer, Michael B., and Andrea R. Miller. The Material Life of Human Beings: Artifacts, Behavior, and Communication. London and New York: Routledge, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Claims that theories in the social sciences have too often ignored the fundamental importance of objects in human life. Argues that in human life it is not symbolic language but the incessant and diverse transactions between people and artifacts that is its main characteristic, as communication often depends on artifacts. Translates this view into new proposals for analyzing and understanding human communication and behavior.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Skibo, James M., and Michael B. Schiffer. People and Things: A Behavioral Approach to Material Culture. New York: Springer, 2008.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1007/978-0-387-76527-3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Proposes a behavioral theory for understanding the relationship between people and things, as required in various social sciences where practices no longer accessible must be reconstructed.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Tilley, Christopher, W. Keane, S. Kuechler-Fogden, M. Rowlands, and P. Spyer, eds. Handbook of Material Culture. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Provides a critical survey of concepts, theories, and debates in the scientific study of things as they figure in human culture, directed at a wide variety of researchers from the social sciences (e.g., anthropologists, social geographers, and archaeologists).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Experimental Artifacts

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In contexts of experimental research and measurement, “artifact” is the term for a phenomenon that is registered during an experiment or measurement: an artifact is not “really there” but occurs only as a result of the particular experimental or testing method adopted. This can range from a signal generated by the physics of the apparatus used to large-scale changes in a social situation due to the presence of a research team (called the “Hawthorne effect”). In this sense, artifact is relevant to the philosophy and methodology of science. Initially, in Rosenthal and Rosnow 1969, methodological approaches focused on the experimental subjects as the main sources of error; later treatments, both later work included in Rosenthal and Rosnow 2009 and Uttal 2003, broadened the identification of sources of experimental bias.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Rosenthal, Robert, and Ralph L. Rosnow, eds. Artifact in Behavioral Research. New York: Academic Press, 1969.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Classical textbook on the subject.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Rosenthal, Robert, and Ralph L. Rosnow, eds. Artifact in Behavioral Research: Re-Issued Jointly with Experimenter Effects in Behavioral Research and the Volunteer Subject in One Volume. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  These three works together present an extensive overview of the various sources of error that can make an experimental result “artificial” rather than “natural”: that is, can cause it to reflect aspects of the experimental procedure rather than the phenomenon under study. These sources are, respectively, the experimental setup, the person of the experimenter, and the human subjects who are being studied.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Uttal, William R. Psychomythics: Sources of Artifacts and Misconceptions in Scientific Psychology. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Discusses the sources of the misunderstandings, artifacts, and just simple errors of data, logic, and interpretation that social science, and in particular psychology, is vulnerable to. Considers errors arising from confusing endogenous and exogenous causal forces misinterpreting the effects of natural laws as psychological phenomena, improper application of statistics, and flawed assumptions.

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