Colloquium: Decomposing a moving target

ABSTRACT: In this paper I present results from my VIDI research project on functional decomposition. I consider the project’s three main topics, starting with giving a mereological (part-whole-theoretic) analysis of function decomposition. Then I present an explanation of why engineers and design methodologists use the term function simultaneously with more than meaning, accepting that the term is an ambiguous and moving target for philosophers. I end with discussing the prospects of an account of functional decomposition in which that ambiguity is incorporated.