Title: Artifacts and the Limits of Human Creative Intentions
By Kathrin Koslicki (Neuchâtel, Philosophy)
Date: Thursday April 29, 2021
Time: 1530-1645 (GMT+3)
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Abstract: According to Amie Thomasson’s author-intention-based account of artifacts, an artifact of kind K is essentially a product of a largely successful intention to create something of kind K (see, e.g., Thomasson (2003), “Realism and Human Kinds”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 67, No. 3, pp. 592-602). A maker has the relevant intention if and only if she has a substantive concept of the nature of Ks which largely matches that of prior makers of Ks (if any) and she intends to realize that concept by imposing K-relevant features.
In cases of prototype production, however, where there are no prior exemplars of the artifactual kind in question, Thomasson argues that what it is to be a K and what the K-relevant features are is determined, as a matter of invention or stipulation, purely by the content of the maker’s intentions and the goals she sets out to achieve through her creative act. As a result, an agent who is constructing a prototype is related in a special way to the artifact and the artifactual kind she creates which protects her from certain kinds of error concerning the outcome of her creative act (see, e.g., Thomasson, Amie (2007): “Artifacts and Human Concepts”, in Creations of the Mind: Theories of Artifacts and Their Representation, edited by Eric Margolis and Stephen Laurence, Oxford University Press, New York, NY, pp. 60-61).
In this paper, I discuss the adequacy of Thomasson’s treatment of prototype production. I argue that the process of prototype production in fact allows for various sources of errors and failures on the part of agents attempting to carry out their creative intentions that are not recognized by Thomasson’s author-intention-based account.
About the speaker: Kathrin Koslicki is Professor of Theoretical Philosophy at the Institute of Philosophy, Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Her work focuses on metaphysics (and metametaphysics), philosophy of language, and Ancient philosophy (especially Aristotle), and has appeared in such venues as the Journal of Philosophy, Noûs, Philosophical Studies, and Oxford Studies in Metaphysics. She has also published two books with Oxford University Press – The Structure of Objects (2008) and Form, Matter, Substance (2018) – which develop and defend a neo-Aristotelian metaphysics of ordinary objects.