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PHILOSOPHY AND DEFAULT DESCRIPTIVISM: THE FUNCTIONS DEBATE

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Abstract

Abstract: By focusing on contributions to the literature on function ascription, this article seeks to illustrate two problems with philosophical accounts that are presented as having descriptive aims. There is a motivational problem in that there is frequently no good reason why descriptive aims should be important, and there is a methodological problem in that the methods employed frequently fail to match the task description. This suggests that the task description as such may be the result of “default descriptivism,” a tendency to take considerations that make sense of a practice to be the very considerations that generate it. Although such hypotheses are frequently quite plausible, the fact of the matter may not be very important for the pursuits of philosophers.

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