Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy 2023-24: Session 6

Conceptual Engineering in Inferentialist Terms

Metodiy Apostolov (LanCog, Centre of Philosophy, University of Lisbon)


27 October 2023, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)


Abstract: In a recent paper Jorem and Löhr (2022) criticize Herman Cappelen’s Austerity Framework (2018) for not providing a good rationale for doing conceptual engineering. They go on to suggest that Inferentialist semantics as developed by Sellars (1954) and Brandom (1994) provides a good rationale for the practice, therefore conceptual engineering is in the business of improving our inferential devices. I will examine the criticism and its extent over strict representationalist theories of conceptual engineering. I will argue that even if the inferentialist take on conceptual content provides a good rationale for engaging in the practice, this does not constitute a sufficient reason to pick it over other alternatives, e.g. functionalist accounts. Finally, I will discuss some advantages of the broad inferentialist approach to conceptual engineering and use it to propose an alternative reading of a particular case of metalinguistic disputes, i.e., metalinguistic negotiation.