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Functional Beauty$
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Glenn Parsons and Allen Carlson

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199205240

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199205240.001.0001

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Indeterminacy and the Concept of Function

Indeterminacy and the Concept of Function

Chapter:
(p.62) 3 Indeterminacy and the Concept of Function
Source:
Functional Beauty
Author(s):

Glenn Parsons (Contributor Webpage)

Allen Carlson (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199205240.003.0003

This chapter addresses the problem of indeterminacy, tracing the problem of the indeterminacy of function to an intuitive and widely held view concerning the functions of artefacts: that they are ultimately a matter of human intentions towards artefacts. It argues that the indeterminacy of function is not merely a consequence of this view, but also a symptom of its failure to provide a cogent analysis of the functions of artefacts. A better view can be gleaned from what may seem an unusual source: the philosophy of science. It is in this field that the concept of function has been considered in greatest depth, and the understanding of the concept that has emerged in this field may also be extended to the realm of artefacts. Doing so not only provides a better conception of artefact functions, but also dispels much of the indeterminacy and obscurity thought to characterize the notion of function itself. By applying some of the insights of this work to the case of artefacts, it is shown that the concept of function is not too nebulous and vague to serve as the cornerstone of a theory of Functional Beauty.

Keywords:   intentionalism, functionality, artefact selection, Functional Beauty, function

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