Abstract This paper systematically compares two frameworks for analysing technical artefacts: the Dual-Nature approach, exemplified by the contributions to Kroes and Meijers (2006), and the collectivist approach advocated by Schyfter (2009), following Kusch (1999). After describing the main tenets of both approaches, we show that there is significant overlap between them: both frameworks analyse the most typical cases of artefact use, albeit in different terms, but to largely the same extent. Then, we describe several kinds of cases for which the frameworks yield different analyses. For these cases, which include one-of-a-kind artefacts and defect types, the Dual-Nature framework leads to a more attractive analysis. Our comparison also gives us the opportunity to respond to Vaesen’s (2010, this issue) critical paper. We do so by distinguishing two readings of the Dual-Nature framework and pointing out that on the sustainable, weaker reading, Vaesen’s considerations supplement the framework rather than offering an alternative to it.