2nd Semester 2017/18: Foundational Issues in Conceptual Engineering (FICE)


We use concepts all the time to make sense of reality. The quality of our cognition thereby crucially depends on the quality of our conceptual apparatuses, so that: the better our concepts are, the better our cognitive activity will be. Conceptual engineering is a fast-moving research program in philosophy that means to provide a method for assessing and improving any of our concepts working as such cognitive devices. But conceptual engineering still lacks an account of what concepts are (as cognitive devices) and of what engineering is (in the case of cognition). And without such prior understanding of its subject matter, conceptual engineering will fail to be implementable as a method for the cognitive amelioration of our conceptual apparatuses. This coordinated project offers MoL students the opportunity to confront themselves with the most challenging issues at the foundations of conceptual engineering.

Possible research topics are:

  • The research program of conceptual engineering;
  • The theories of cognition for conceptual engineering;
  • The theories of concepts for conceptual engineering;
  • The methodological framework of conceptual engineering.

The FICE coordinated project will take place in two phases. The first phase will consist of a tutorial on conceptual engineering in four one-hour sessions (weeks 1-2). The second phase will consist of the individual research project conducted by the students, and it will include the writing of a short report (week 3) along with its presentation to the other participants (week 4).


Basic knowledge in philosophy of language, mind, and cognition, as well as interest in meta-philosophical issues are expected.


Pass/fail, based on the report and its presentation — attendance to the other presentations is compulsory.


Alexis Burgess, Herman Cappelen, and David Plunkett, eds. (forthcoming). Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Alexis Burgess and David Plunkett (2013). “Conceptual ethics I/II”. Philosophy Compass 8.12: 1091-1110.

Herman Cappelen (2018). Fixing Language: Conceptual Engineering and the Limits of Revision.Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Michael Prinzing (2017). “The revisionist’s rubric: conceptual engineering and the discontinuity objection”. Inquiry: 1-27 (online first).

Mona Simion. “The ‘should’ in conceptual engineering”. Inquiry: 1–15 (online first).

Fenner Stanley Tanswell (2017). “Conceptual engineering for mathematical concepts”. Inquiry: 1-33 (online first).

Further material will be made available in due course.

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