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FRIHUMSAM-Fri prosj.st. hum og sam

Conceptual engineering

Alternative title: Conceptual Engineering

Awarded: NOK 11.6 mill.

In any inquiry, whether scientific or practical, we use concepts to frame questions about reality. An obvious way in which the inquiry can be successful is by yielding answers to the resulting questions. A far less obvious form of success has to do with asking the "right" questions, formulated using the "right" concepts. It is clear that many great leaps in human insight and understanding have been associated with the forging of "better" concepts, which has enabled us to ask "better" questions: In physics, the differentiation of weight and mass; in mathematics, the Cantorian notion of "size" or number; in economics, the articulation of the contemporary concept of money; in social science the concept of gender, as opposed to sex. The nature of that process is the topic of this project. Our project will be the first systematic investigation ever undertaken of this often ignored, but tremendously important, dimension of the success of any inquiry. Our goal is to develop a set of overarching theoretical frameworks and then apply these to the theoretical and practical domains. The project is interdisciplinary at its core: The crafting and assessment of concepts is a distinctively philosophical skill but also at the center of any intellectual endeavor, as illustrated by the above examples. What is missing from all these specific endeavors is an overarching framework for how it is done. Finally, our project will have a direct bearing on questions outside of academia and impact on social and public policy: One of the core group members is already directly involved in relevant forms of policy formation and can (attempt to) directly apply our theories in practice. In the reporting period, Cappelen has completed a new monograph on conceptual engineering, the second in a trilogy. This one is on Linguistic Abandonment, and it builds on Fixing Language. Linnebo and his collaborators have in the reporting period published an edited volume "The One and the Many" at Oxford University Press. Sterken has in the reporting period written several papers on online communication.

In any inquiry, whether scientific or practical, we use concepts to frame questions about reality. An obvious way in which the inquiry can be successful is by yielding answers to the resulting questions. A far less obvious form of success has to do with asking the "right" questions, formulated using the "right" concepts. It is clear that many great leaps in human insight and understanding have been associated with the forging of "better" concepts, which has enabled us to ask "better" questions: In physics, the differentiation of weight and mass; in mathematics, the Cantorian notion of "size" or number; in economics, the articulation of the contemporary concept of money; in social science the concept of gender, as opposed to sex. The nature of that process is the topic of this project. Our project will be the first systematic investigation ever undertaken of this often ignored, but tremendously important, dimension of the success of any inquiry. Our goal is to develop a set of overarching theoretical frameworks and then apply these to the theoretical and practical domains. The project is interdisciplinary at its core: The crafting and assessment of concepts is a distinctively philosophical skill but also at the center of any intellectual endeavor, as illustrated by the above examples. What is missing from all these specific endeavors is an overarching framework for how it is done. Finally, our project will have a direct bearing on questions outside of academia and impact on social and public policy: One of the core group members is already directly involved in relevant forms of policy formation and can (attempt to) directly apply our theories in practice

Publications from Cristin

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FRIHUMSAM-Fri prosj.st. hum og sam