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Paul Podosky, "What attitude should we take to conceptual engineering?"
Wednesday 21 Sept 2022 ⋅ 15:30 – 17:00
Eastern Australia Time - Sydney
Philosophy Seminar RoomSimulcast via
Zoom: https://uni-sydney.zoom.us/j/87937027507Abstract:A split is made
between cautious pessimists and cautious optimists in
conceptual engineering. Where the former worries that concepts are hard to
engineer because they are, in a very strong sense, “out of our control,”
the latter accepts that control is possible but still very hard. However,
this doesn’t exhaust the space of possible attitudes. In this paper, I show
that when we attend closely to the conditions of our conceptual
environment, we will see that the burden of implementation cannot be placed
on the shoulders of individuals. But nor can we rely on existing social
infrastructure to get our concepts to stick. Thus, when it comes to the
normativity of conceptual engineering, our attention is perhaps better
focused on cultivating the right conditions for conceptual uptake, rather
than taking our chances on a world designed to keep things conceptually as
they are. That is, conceptual engineering faces a pre-implementation
challenge. Recognising this challenge allows us to be pessimistic
optimists. We can be sceptical about the feasibility of conceptual
engineering in the present, but hopeful about it in the future – provided
that we get our conceptual environment right.
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