Colloquium: Technical, social and aesthetic functions

The concept of ‘function’ is often employed and sometimes defined in such a way that it only relates to how artefacts can be used to satisfy physical goals (e.g. transportation). Using artefacts to satisfy non-physical goals (e.g. social recognition) is typically described without reference to an artefact’s function. By drawing on the various disciplines that are concerned with function, this talk demonstrates that there are many different kinds of function, some of which will account for non-physical uses. By referring to these different kinds of function we can reduce the conceptual distance between physical and non-physical uses. Furthermore, by applying the concept of function to non-physical uses our understanding of such uses can benefit from prior work on function.