Aspects of the Mereology of Artifacts
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More ingenuity and creative energy is invested in the design, production and application of artifacts than in any field of human endeavour. We are surrounded by millions of artifacts, we have commerce with them every day, many of us more than with other human beings. The level of civilisation is literally measured by the kind of artifacts of which a culture is capable, from the first palaeolithic hand axe to the space shuttle and the supercomputer. It is all the more surprising then that there has been little interest in the general ontological status of artifacts. Perhaps it is assumed that there is little to say beyond the bare dictionary definition, or perhaps that the very variety and heterogeneity of artifacts inhibits such a general study. They lack as a class that simplicity and amenity to formal treatment that attracts the formally inclined, and largely fail to give rise to the kinds of tingling intellectual puzzles that customarily attract philosophers.
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