e-book Technical Functions: On the Use and Design of Artefacts

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Here we can already see how natural and how proper it might be to apply the same word to a number of objects between which there is no common feature. And if we confine our attention to any arbitrarily selected four of these objects, say e d c a, then although they all happen to have B in common, it is clear that it is not in virtue of the presence of B that they are all rightly called by the same name. Even if the actual instances were indefinitely numerous, and they all happened to have one or more of the features in common, it would not be in virtue of the presence of the common feature or features that they would all be rightly called by the same name, since the name also applies to possible instances that lack the feature or features.

Bambrough , p.

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Ajdukiewicz , p. Although family resemblance still remains nothing but a programme in philosophy , it was successfully employed in psychology. Mervis close their pioneering paper on the internal structure of human concepts with the following remark:. There is a tenacious tradition of thought in philosophy and psychology which assumes that items can bear a categorical relationship to each other only by means of the possession of common criteria attributes.

Rosch and Mervis , p. The hypothesis tested in Rosch and Mervis can be summarised as follows. Suppose that we define the similarity relation between such concepts in terms of overlap between those attributes: one concept is similar to another to the degree of the overlap between the attributes they have. The first part of the hypothesis in question posits that one concept is prototypical of another super-ordinate concept in proportion to the extent the former bears such similarity to other members of the latter.

The second part of the hypothesis has it that the most prototypical members have least similarity to concepts in other super-ordinate concept. The six experiments described in Rosch and Mervis proved these claims to be valid. The results obtained by E.

Technical Functions: On The Use And Design Of Artefacts by Wybo Houkes

Rosch and her associates invigorated the research on the structure and dynamics of our conceptual life. Besides a number of specific experimental results three main types of theoretical models of concepts emerged: i prototype view, ii exemplar view, and iii theory view Murphy , ch. These three models are theories with different predictive and explanatory capabilities, still they share some salient characteristics.

Barsalou argues that there exists a distinct conceptual framework that unifies the main theories of concepts and whose capabilities are commensurable to the complexity of human knowledge. The main component of his proposal is the notion of frame, which is claimed to constitute a reasonable generalisation of the notion of attribute list. A frame is an entity — Barsalou et al. The main role of frames is to represent concepts. Consider, for example, the concept of watch as represented by the frame depicted in Fig.

The frame describes this concept by means of three attributes: movement mechanism, display, and case. The movement mechanism attribute is to represent the physical principle of watch operation and our frame assigns it two values: mechanical and electronic. The display attribute characterises the ways in which standard watches provide time: analog or digital.

The role of this invariant is to integrate the case attribute with the movement mechanism: watch cases usually contain movement mechanisms. Finally, the frame contains also one value constraint — shown in Fig. Generally speaking, each attribute of a concept represents a certain aspect or characteristic of the objects that fall under this concept. Another specific feature of frames is their extendibility. Furthermore, there are frames for structural invariants and value constraints. One of the most both robust and intriguing finding in research on concepts and categorisation concerns the flexibility of concepts.

Many researchers have implemented such manipulations in experiments and observed large effects on verification time. Barsalou , p. Generally speaking the flexibility of a concept consists in the variability of its content and structure with respect to different individual subjects who entertain this concept and with respect to different occasions contexts in which it is employed.

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The frame theory in question captures this phenomenon by means of what I call the main frame and its variants. According to the explanations given in Barsalou , p. This frame is constituted by the most comprehensive set of attributes for this concept. Interestingly enough, quoting Goodman , Barsalou maintains that the latter set can be infinite. The main frame is accessed on different occasions by means of subsets of this set and each such subset may be represented by a frame — let me call it a variant of the main frame. For instance, if we make a grossly oversimplified assumption to the effect that the frame in Fig.

This means that if an object in front of me has, say, the mechanical mechanism and the analog display, but lacks a case, then it still falls under the concept of watch, even though it might not be a prototypical watch. On the other hand, if we made a probably false assumption to the effect that the frame in Fig. Formally, the main frame for a concept can be represented as a directed connected labelled graph, with labels both on vertices and edges, and its variants as its connected subgraphs — see Petersen Barsalou shows how this conception of frames may be employed as a common conceptual framework for the classical view of concepts and its main non-classical competitors.

Obviously, each of these views will use frames in a different way to express the internal structure of concepts, their role in categorisation, etc. In particular, the prototypicality predictions will differ among those views even if they are expressed by means of frames. It is the idea of Barsalou frames that has shaped my proposal of a family resemblance notion of artefact. The notion of artefact developed in this paper is based on the common sense idea of life-cycle of a product. This idea is well elaborated in system engineering, but one can detect its existence also outside engineering, for instance in archeology.

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Concept — when the requirements for the artefact to be designed are defined and analysed;. In archeology French prehistorians developed the so-called chaine operatoire concept for the purpose of lithic analysis, which concept seems to be deceptively similar, ceteris paribus , to the idea of ISO system life-cycle:.


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Technology is not typology. This is an English translation from Bar-Yosef and Peer of one of the opening passages in Tixier et al. Instead of six stages I will consider only five with slightly different labels:.

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These five processes will be interpreted as attributes of frame representing artefacts. I will develop this idea in two stages: first introducing basic and then extended frames. The main basic frame for an artefact consists of the five aforementioned attributes — see Fig. I will call such frame the main basic frame for artefacts and its variants will be referred to as basic variants. Strictly speaking, basic and also extended frames directly represent the histories of artefacts and artefacts are represented indirectly as object participating in those histories. Thus, strictly speaking, the five attributes of design, production, use, service, and disposal are attributes of the histories of artefacts and not of the artefacts themselves.

Artifacts, agents and intentions: towards a reflexive ontology of technical objects

The latter are characterised by the attribute of being designed, being produced, etc. Consequently, all my claims regarding frames representing artefacts are to be interpreted in this manner. In principle any connected subgraph of the main basic frame may count as a variant of this frame, however, there are certain philosophical limitations on this combinatorial variety, i. Let me now introduce a bit of notation to speak about main basic frames and their subgraphs. A frame subgraph will be represented as a sequence of acronyms of its attributes. The order of this sequence follows the order of attributes in the enumeration above because the basic frames do not carry any information about the temporal order of their attributes.

This implies, among other things, than no sequence contains more than one occurrence of the same attribute abbreviation. Thus, for instance,. Each such sequence is meant to provide a complete characteristics of a given artefact type, so.

leondumoulin.nl/language/suspense/7699-lust-for-justice.php This implies that the categories I define in terms of frames are pairwise disjoint, e. Now consider the class of subgraphs of the main basic frame that contain the design attribute, but do not contain the production attribute. It is to represent those objects that were designed and used, but were not produced, i. The problem with them is obvious: you cannot use an object unless it exists and the frame.

Consequently, the following subgraphs of the main basic frames are not considered here as its variants:. Consider the first case. It represents those objects that are somehow being serviced, i. Since they were not produced, only the so-called natural objects like some stones and some trunks may fall under. But what kind of story can be told when we want to describe an object that was only serviced and then disposed? The main problem here is how to make sense of the operation of maintenance. If the object in question is neither designed nor produced nor used, how can we meaningfully claim that we maintain it?

If it were only used, we could claim maintenance means restoring some of its properties that are important for the way we use it. Without either design or production or use one cannot explain and justify the claim that a certain process is a maintenance operation with respect to an instance of.


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One could even argue that it becomes an artefact at the end of its disposal, i. These consequences seem to overstrain our common-sense intuitions concerning artefacts or even objects in general.