The Foundations of Conceptual Engineering

November 16, 2016 - November 17, 2016
Nature of Representation ERC Project, University of Leeds

29-31 Clarendon Place
Leeds LS2 9JT
United Kingdom


Alexis Burgess
Herman Cappelen
University of Oslo/University of St Andrews
Catarina Dutilh Novaes
University of Groningen
Amie L. Thomasson
University of Miami


Gail Leckie
University of Leeds
J. Robert G. Williams
University of Leeds

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This workshop addresses foundational questions about the methodology and limits of conceptual engineering, also known as "explication" and "ameliorative analysis."

Philosophers try to achieve clear descriptions of many of the concepts we have, such as race, gender, truth, existence, moral obligation, personhood—but they also seek to improve on them.  This workshop is concerned with the general principles underlying conceptual amelioration. Questions that may be covered include: Which conceptual changes are improvements?  What standards are in play in this evaluation? Do we need to appeal to the *purpose* or *function* of concepts, and measure how well concepts subserve their function? If so, what facts make it the case that concept C has function F, and how do we find out about such facts? Once we identify better concepts, how do we achieve the desired conceptual revision?


Wednesday 16th November

1.30:                Registration

2-3.30pm:        Alexis Burgess (UCLA) “Never say ‘Never’”

4-5.30pm:        Amie Thomasson (Miami) “Conceptual ethics and the work of metaphysics”

7.30pm:           Conference dinner (est £20pp)

Thursday 17th November

10-11.30am:    Herman Cappelen (Oslo, St Andrews) “ ‘Incomprehensible - Out of Control - Will Keep Trying’: The Foundations of Conceptual Engineering”

12-1.30pm:      Catarina Dutilh Novaes (Groningen) “Conceptual
genealogy for analytic philosophy”

1.30-2.30pm:  Sandwich lunch and close

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November 11, 2016, 6:45pm BST

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