Machine Learning as a Tool for Conceptual Engineering?

Art der Arbeit:
  • Masterarbeit Wirtschaftsinformatik


If language shapes our reality, changing our language might lead to a different, potentially preferable reality. This thought is echoed throughout a variety of philosophical schools and can, in different variations, with different assumptions, and with different implications, be found in the writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Richard Rorty, Friedrich Nietzsche, Immanuel Kant, or Humberto Maturana. Recently, the discussion has received more widespread attention. Motivated in part from feminist philosophy of the 1990s, philosophers have combined their research efforts towards the improvement of language under the moniker of conceptual engineering and conceptual ethics. The amelioration of concepts and language is faced with several theoretical and practical challenges. What makes a concept better than another? How could a new concept be adopted by respective language users?

Information systems development is essentially concerned with language development (clarification and sources per request). Broadly, this poses the question if information systems can support conceptual engineering and, if so, in what regards. Machine learning (ML) might be a fruitful first step to guide this analysis. Contemporary ML approaches are inductive (cf. Rescher 1980): they generate potentially novel generalizations based on a set of observations. Researchers like Rees (2022) therefore suggest that they might guide the development of novel concepts.

This master’s thesis should explore the capabilities of ML to support conceptual engineering. You should identify potential tasks of conceptual engineering and what requirements they face. Then you should investigate how different ML approaches (we can disucss which in our first meetings) can serve to address these requirements.


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