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TitleA philosophy of material culture : action, function, and mind
Author Beth Preston
Imprint New York : Routledge, c2013
Descript xii, 251 p. ; 24 cm


"This book focuses on material culture as a subject of philosophical inquiry and promotes the philosophical study of material culture by articulating some of the central and difficult issues raised by this topic and providing innovative solutions to them, most notably an account of improvised action and a non-intentionalist account of function in material culture. Preston argues that material culture essentially involves activities of production and use; she therefore adopts an action-theoretic foundation for a philosophy of material culture. Part 1 illustrates this foundation through a critique, revision, and extension of existing philosophical theories of action. Part 2 investigates a salient feature of material culture itself--its functionality. A basic account of function in material culture is constructed by revising and extending existing theories of biological function to fit the cultural case. Here the adjustments are for the most part necessitated by special features of function in material culture. These two parts of the project are held together by a trio of overarching themes: the relationship between individual and society, the problem of centralized control, and creativity."-- Publisher's website


The centralized control model : Aristotle ; Marx ; Dipert ; The centralized control model ; Centralization and collaboration ; Control and improvisation -- Taking improvisation seriously : Sounds like a plan ; Planner takes all ; To improvise or not to improvise ; Doing things on purpose -- Coming to terms with collaboration : We have to improvise ; Collaborating with the enemy ; Sorting out the social ; Corralling crusoe -- How to improvise : Why songwriting? ; Strategies for coordinating action ; Practices, habits, and the like -- Proper function and system function : Prelude: the phenomenology of function ; Biological function: two theories ; What price unification? ; Proper function and system function in material culture -- The use and abuse of intention : Intentionalist approaches to function in material culture ; Novel prototypes ; Phantom functions -- Reproduction and innovation : Growing and making ; Proper functions and purposes ; System functions and innovation

Material culture -- Philosophy

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