One day workshop: ConceptLab and Conceptual Engineering: Taking Stock


Session 1: 9:00 - 10:00

Herman Cappelen

I present an overview of the work I have done on the theoretical framework for conceptual engineering during the first two years of the NFR funded project on Conceptual Engineering. I outline results, challenges, and plans for the next three years. 


Øystein Linnebo: "Engineering of formal concepts"

I provide an overview of how I want to “engineer” some formal concepts, in particular, collection, infinity, generality, object, and truth. I review what has been done and what remains. 


Session 2: 10:10 - 10:50

Camilla Serck-Hanssen: "Conceptual Engineering and Societal Impact. Experience from the Military Sector”


General discussion of connections between our three research themes


Session 3: 11:00 - 12:15

Patrick Greenough: "Applied Conceptual Engineering"

Does Conceptual Engineering (and Conception Engineering) take place outside of philosophy? In what ways? And should it? And in what ways? In this highly exploratory talk, I consider how to apply Conceptual/Conception Engineering beyond strictly philosophical debates. My particular focus will be something I call: Conceptual Consultancy. This involves giving some kind of conceptual assessment—a conceptual health-check—of a group, society, corporation, government body, charity, NGO, and so on. It turns out that many companies often ask themselves “why are we doing what we do?”, yet they lack any of the conceptual resources to answer such questions. Hence, Conceptual Consultancy. (I hope to arrange a workshop within ConceptLab on this topic—so this is really just a pilot for that.) 


Rachel Sterken: "New Frontiers of Speech"


David Plunkett: “The normative foundations of conceptual ethics”


12:15 - 12:50 Lunch 


Session 4: 12:50 - 13:40

Dragana Bozin: "Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Change in Exact Sciences: friends or foes?"


Andrew Peet: "Meaning and Meaning Change"

One of the biggest challenges I have been faced with when theorizing about conceptual engineering is the puzzles which seem to arise from the very possibility of intentional meaning change. Thinking about conceptual engineering has forced me to re-assess many of my prior beliefs about language and meaning. In this talk, I will briefly present one puzzle (drawn from parts of Herman’s book ‘Fixing Language’), and I will present an account of the nature of linguistic meaning which I believe helps us resolve the puzzle. The puzzle is as follows: On the one hand, semantic externalism is true. The meanings of our words depend on our environment, and patterns of use within our linguistic community. This suggests that we, as individuals, have very little control over the meanings of our terms. On the other hand, it seems like there are obvious cases in which we, as individuals, are masters of our meanings. For example, if I stipulate in a paper that ‘intuition’ should be taken to mean ‘immediate phenomenal seeming following consideration of a thought experiment’, then my future uses of ‘intuition’ in that paper will have that meaning. I believe we can resolve this tension by thinking about the function of meaning ascriptions. Theorists usually assume that public meanings play an essential role in communication. I am not convinced that this is the case. Rather, I suspect that talk of utterance meaning is used to track and talk about the responsibilities speakers undertake when they make utterances. This fits well with an ‘interpreter’ based view of utterance meaning, similar to that espoused by Wettstein (1984) (followed by Romdenh-Romluc (2002), and Gauker (2008)). I will suggest that such views resolve the tension between semantic externalism and the possibility of intentional meaning change.


Session 5: 13:50 - 14:40

Sigurd Jorem: "What the very idea of giving necessary and sufficient conditions teaches us about philosophy"

In this talk, I outline one of the arguments I shall be developing in my impending PhD project, to justify the claim that philosophical theories can permissibly engage in conceptual revision. Traditional conceptual analyses have been subject to the requirements that the application conditions they assign should match with our deployment patterns or intuition, that the conditions are informative or somehow non-circular and that the conditions are necessary and sufficient for applying the target concept. Psychological evidence indicates that our deplyoment patterns give little reason to suppose that we possess concepts as if they were governed by necessary and sufficient conditions. For some, this is a reason to abandon the project of giving necessary and sufficient conditions. Here, I argue that a more plausible solution is to abandon the first requirement, that our (would-be) analyses must conform to the concepts we already have, as given by intuition and deployment patterns.


Joey Pollock: "Conceptual engineering and content individuation"

My plan is to talk about why we might prefer internalism as a framework for understanding conceptual engineering.


Coffee break 14:40 - 15:00 


Session 6: 15:00 - 15:50 

Peter Fritz: "Higher-Order Logic as Conceptual Engineering"

A number of philosophers have recently endorsed primitivism about higher-order logic, the claim that higher-order quantifiers have an intended interpretation which is not reducible to any formal proof system or model-theoretic semantics. I argue that such a primitivism can be motivated from the viewpoint of conceptual engineering, and discuss some methodological consequences of this perspective.


Sam Roberts: "Conceptions of properties"


Session 7: 16:00 - 16:50 

Andreas Brekke Carlsson: "Responsibility, verbal disputes and revision"


Lars Christie: "Disentangling conceptual and normative disputes in ethics of punishment and self-defense"

Published Feb. 1, 2018 10:31 AM - Last modified May 30, 2018 9:14 AM