Scharp on inconsistent concepts and their engineered replacements, or: Can we mend these broken things?

Pinder, Mark (2019). Scharp on inconsistent concepts and their engineered replacements, or: Can we mend these broken things? Inquiry (Early access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0020174X.2019.1688181

Abstract

Kevin Scharp’s influential work on the alethic paradoxes combines an extensively developed inconsistency theory with a substantial conceptual engineering project. I argue that Scharp’s inconsistency theory is in tension with his conceptual engineering project: the inconsistency theory includes an account of concepts that implies that the conceptual engineering project will fail. I recommend that Scharp revises his account of concepts, and show how doing so allows him to resolve the tension. The discussion is important for ongoing work on conceptual engineering. Firstly, it is important to get clear on whether Scharp’s conceptual engineering project is—or could be—successful. Secondly, the issues discussed herein may generalise to other conceptual engineering projects, such as explication and ameliorative projects. In particular, the discussion has implications for how conceptual engineers can think about concepts and their relation to how we use words.

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