, Volume 82, Issue 1, pp 233–241 | Cite as

The Problem of Phantom Functions

Critical Discussion


This paper discusses a recent solution to the problem of artifact phantom functions by Beth Preston. A phantom function is a function associated with a kind of artifact that it is structurally incapable of performing. Preston proposes a criterion of artifact proper function according to which phantom functions can be proper functions. This paper argues that Preston’s criterion cannot ground the teleological and normative aspects definitive of proper functions and that the proposed criterion is not consistent with Preston’s account of how copies of novel prototypes acquire proper functions. The paper defends an understanding of phantom functions suggested in earlier work by Preston.


Proper Function Successful Performance Human Intention Function Ascription Etiological Theory 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy Section, Department of Media, Cognition, and CommunictionUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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