On collectively assigning features to artifacts
The common notion of artifacts characterizes them as the products of successful activities of their makers, guided by intentions that such objects would instantiate certain features, such as their specific functions. Many counterexamples, however, reveal the unsuitability of the common notion. In the face of this acknowledgment, the paper explores the possibility that features of artifacts, and more specifically, the possession of their functions, may arise, at least partially, from collective assignments. In order to achieve the mentioned goal, the paper critically examines some notions and theses put forward by John Searle (1996; 2010) and others. Its main result, however, consists in offering and elucidating an original thesis, namely, that the functions of many artifacts would be maintained, partially, by forms of continuous collective intentionality, which can involve conscious or unconscious, active or inactive collective intentional states.
Keywords: Artifacts, assignment of function, collective intentionality, maintenance of function.
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