ABSTRACT

Agents who are capable of building and using assemblages of tools must be responsive to the two-dimensional norms that govern such tool kits. Taken together, the entire suite of tools forms a teleological system. Ideally, this system is such that if (1) each instance of a tool type in the kit is actually capable, when used as it ought to be used according to prevailing community norms, of producing the result that it should produce to fulfill the role of that tool type in the system, and (2) the tools are used as they ought to be used, then the result that the suite of tools should be able to facilitate would in fact be facilitated. While this formulation sounds complicated, the underlying reality that the formulation represents is straightforward. The role of carpenters in human societies is to produce useful things out of wood. The ensemble of tools in the carpenters’ tool kit should, when used together in the way that carpenters ought to use them, help to bring about the production of useful things of a more or less standardized type out of wood. To be a carpenter, or to make the tools that carpenters use, or to repair any of those tools, an agent must be responsive to how each of the tool types should be able to be used to accomplish the proximate ends that help to define their type, how the entire set of tools should be able to be used together so as to achieve the ultimate end, and the way in which a carpenter ought to use these tools to achieve these proximate ends and how the various tool types ought to be used together so as to accomplish the ultimate end of making useful things out of wood. Tool kits are created and used to achieve instrumental goals, and are normatively evaluable in terms of their usefulness in achieving those goals. But the actual utility of the tools is relative to a set of practices that normatively specify how users of the tools ought to use them together so as to achieve these goals. So to successfully produce or use a tool kit an agent must be responsive to two-dimensional norms that both fix what the tools should be able to do and simultaneously institute the social practices that specify how the tools ought to be employed separately and together.