The Foundations of Conceptual Engineering

September 14, 2018 - September 15, 2018
Department of Philosophy, New York University

Room 202
5 washington place
New York 10003
United States

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities

View the Call For Papers


  • New York Institute of Philosophy (NYIP)
  • ConceptLab (University of Oslo)

All speakers:

Pomona College
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of St. Andrews
New York University
Uppsala University
Indiana University, Bloomington
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Pittsburgh
Dartmouth College
University of Melbourne
Dartmouth College


University of St. Andrews
New York University
Indiana University, Bloomington
University of Leeds

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One dimension of cognitive success is getting it right, i.e gaining knowledge of facts. Another dimension of cognitive success is using the right concept, i.e. framing a topic in the right way. This view, if correct, tasks inquirers with critically examining the concepts they are using and perhaps replacing those concepts with new and better ones. This task is often known as “conceptual engineering”.

The idea that conceptual engineering is an important task for inquirers in and outside philosophy has recently gained traction. Some philosophers think conceptual engineering is an important task for inquirers to pursue.  The conference is focused on foundational issues in connection with conceptual engineering. Topics to be addressed include the following:

  • What are the semantic mechanisms that underlie conceptual engineering?
  • What are concepts, and which role (if any) do they play in conceptual engineering?
  • How can a theory of conceptual engineering be integrated with large-scale semantic theories? 
  • Which precise changes does a language undergo when its speakers engineer concepts?
  • Is conceptual engineering something that speakers can ever purposefully bring about?
  • What is the relation between changing concepts and changing reality? 

The planned conference will focus especially on the semantic foundations of conceptual engineering and push towards a better understanding of the process.

The conference is organized collaboratively by members of NYU (Vera Flocke and David Chalmers) and members of the research project ConceptLab, located at the University of Oslo (Herman Cappelen and Andrew Peet).

The conference is funded by the New York Institute of Philosophy and ConceptLab.

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August 31, 2018, 5:00am EST

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