Engineering as Argumentation and Vice Versa


Published on

The paper starts by considering the economics of modeling in engineering and what has been called the modeling spectrum, thereafter (1) suggesting that conceptual reasoning is as important to engineering education and practice as more quantitative modes of thought, and (2) illustrating how argumentation might be taken more seriously in engineering practice and education by using Toulmin's model in The Uses of Argument as a device for practically capturing engineering reasoning. The paper then takes a more speculative turn and considers the stone ax as an early externalization of human thinking processes prior to speech and natural language. Connecting the naturalistic decision making perspective of Klein with what might have been going on in the minds of these inventive ancestors leads us to the suggestion that the engineering of technological artifacts is both a historical and intellectual precursor to argumentation and philosophy.

Published in: Education, Business, Technology
1 Like
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Engineering as Argumentation and Vice Versa

  1. 1. Engineering as Argumentationand Vice VersaDavid E. GoldbergThreeJoy Associates & the University of IllinoisChampaign, Illinois 61821
  2. 2. A Different Path to Philosophy•  Resigned my tenure 31 December 2010 as engineering professor.•  Known as engineer & computer scientist for work in genetic algorithms.•  Road to early retirement goes through philosophy and transformation of engineering education –  Was interested in history & economics in mid-80s and 90s. –  Did Teaching Company courses as runner in the mid-90s. –  Saw John Searle give talk in 1996. –  Some of my GA work took philosophical turn. –  Returned to philosophical coursework and reading in 2005-2006.•  Key fork in the road:The Blogpost.
  3. 3. 24 May 06, of Engineering Not a Contradiction in Terms “Ive been on a philosophy attributed to the practical nature reading/learning jag for a number of the engineering enterprise. of months, and one of the Engineers are busy doing, and questions Ive had is why isnt reflection on that activity detracts there a well defined literature on from getting the job done, but this the philosophy of engineering. argument does not answer why Science has a longstanding engineering scholars in the literature on the philosophy of academy and elsewhere dont science. Other fields of practice, spend more time reflecting on the for example law and medicine place of engineering in the world, seem more philosophically the ontology and epistomology of inclined. Engineering (and engineering artifacts and business for that matter) seem less knowledge, engineering method, inclined toward philosophical ethics, and other philosophical reflection and speculation. topics.” On the one hand, this dearth of philosophizing can be
  4. 4. After The Blogpost•  Nosed around and found NAE committee.•  MIT meeting in 2006.•  Decision to have Workshop on Philosophy & Engineering at Delft in 2007.•  Ibo & Dave as Co-Chairs.•  3 meetings: 2007, 2008 & 2010.•  Let inside UIUC to Engineering & Technology Studies at Illinois, Workshops on the Engineer of the Future, iFoundry, Olin-Illinois Partnership, early retirement & ThreeJoy Associates.•  2 parts of talk: connect then combat.
  5. 5. Motivation for 1/2 This Talk•  Presented paper at fPET-2010.•  Developed economy of models argument as part of Design of Innovation.•  Found Toulmin’s model useful as theoretical way to connect formal and informal engineering modeling.•  Started teaching this in senior design and it proved helpful.
  6. 6. Roadmap•  What Engineers Know & How They Know It.•  Engineering modeling lesson from a life in genetic algorithms.•  A demarcation problem.•  An economy of models & a modeling spectrum.•  Lessons from senior design & the missing basics.•  Qualitative modeling as missing skill.•  Toulmin as a way to articulate & unify engineering modeling.•  Tales from the trenches: Toulmin & tortillas.•  Argumentation as engineering: Homo habilis & Gary Klein.
  7. 7. Engineering vs. Scientific Knowledge•  Vincenti distinguishes engineering knowledge from science with examples from aeronautical engineering history.•  Suggests engineering is not merely applied science.•  Two Vincenti cases: –  Control volume models. –  Flush riveting.•  Quantitative & qualitative models that are different because of their usage.•  Can we go beyond distinctive historical exemplars?
  8. 8. A Life in Genetic Algorithms•  Met John Holland in 1980 upon return to Michigan for PhD.•  Did dissertation applying GAs to gas pipeline optimization and rule learning.•  Needed better understanding to improve GAs.•  Received criticism for my “engineering style” of modeling.•  Models not “proper” or “rigorous” but they were helping me design faster, more effective GAs.•  Could I make rigorous defense of my method?
  9. 9. Science-Engineering Demarcation Problem•  Engineers & scientists think in terms of models.•  Scientist is in business of model making.•  Engineer is in business of artifact making. Model making & usage is instrumental to that aim.•  In era of technoscience, models themselves not necessarily distinct.•  Make distinction in use.•  Engineers explicitly, necessarily & systematically use & develop range of models with different precision- accuracy and costs: an economy of models.•  This economy of models fairly reliable demarcation of engineering modeling practice from science.
  10. 10. An Economy of Modeling Engineer/Inventor ε, Error Scientist/Mathematician C, Cost of Modeling
  11. 11. Modeling Costs and Benefits•  Engineer is economic modeler when marginal costs do not exceed marginal benefits of modeing: ΔC ≤ ΔB.•  Benefit to what: To designed artifact.•  3 points: –  Calculation usually not explicit. –  But modeling economy taught in pedagogy: e.g. Statics before Dynamics. –  Uneconomic model use common engineering manager’s complaint: Modeling for modeling’s sake.•  Scientist studies at error frontier: New model pushes out error frontier.•  Engineers often work at cost or benefit frontier (better C for given error or better error for given C): e.g. FEM vs. analytical elasticity solutions.
  12. 12. Spectrum of Models Qual-Quant Divide
  13. 13. Approach of Design of Innovation•  First part of DoI methodological.•  Applied modeling methodology to selectorecombinative GA design problem.•  Constructed little models, quantitative models of different facets, integrating them to design and tune GAs that scaled to large hard problems.•  Quantitative analysis was prime concern.•  Concern for modeling left (qualitative models) came with engineering education reform efforts.
  14. 14. Sociotechnical Modeling Styles Things   Ignored   Hard   So,   Dismissed   People   Qualitave   Quantave  
  15. 15. Lessons from Senior Design•  Coached 20 years of senior design.•  Students –  expect clean problems with well-defined data & –  are Pavlovian dogs when it comes to Newton’s laws or Maxwell’s equations.•  Real-world problems & data –  are ill-defined; –  come in form of narrative; –  vary in feasibility & quality•  Students have trouble making sense of problem & data.•  Misled by their classroom experience of clean problems, with easy, single solution, and spend first half of course unlearning.•  What don’t they know how to do?
  16. 16. Missing Basics of Engineering•  Question: Socrates 101.•  Label: Aristotle 101.•  Model conceptually: Hume 101 & Aristotle 102.•  Decompose: Descartes 101.•  Experiment/Measure: Bacon-Locke 101.•  Visualize/draw: da Vinci-Monge 101.•  Communicate: Newman 101 Socrates (470-399 BC)16   ©  David  E.  Goldberg  2010  
  17. 17. How It Works: Key to Engineering•  A key qualitative model in engineering is representation of causal chain of the way things work (or not): –  As narrative. –  Or diagram. –  Or working prototype.•  “This led to this led to this.”•  Critical model, but students think “if no equation, no model.”•  Field example.
  18. 18. The Tortilla Problem•  Interesting example in tortilla factory.•  Company was using too much dusting flour relative to historical recollection.•  Flour cost was rising.•  Wanted students to study process and reduce dusting flour usage. ©  David  E.  Goldberg  2009  
  19. 19. Burnt-Flour-as-Mold Problem19   •  Students heard story. •  Too much flour  gets in air  flour burns  falls on tortilla  customer mistakes for mold complaint. •  Causal chain a model. •  Students don’t recognize as model. •  How can we help them?
  20. 20. Help from Argumentation Theory•  1958 book by philosopher Stephen Toulmin formed basis of argumentation theory.•  How do people really make arguments?•  How do people give reasons for what they think or do?•  Form of reasoning ties together formal and informal engineering reasoning.
  21. 21. Formal Reasoning: Logic•  Modus ponens (modus ponendo ponens: mode that affirms by affirming): –  if p then q –  p is true –  therefore q is true•  Method of mathematical logic & formal reasoning.•  Note: Once premises and rules in place, formal logic derives Aristotle (384-322 BCE) conclusions mechanistically.
  22. 22. Toulmin: Elements of a Human Argument•  Like modus ponens: –  Claim. A single statement advanced for the adherence of others. G → C –  Grounds. A statement about persons, conditions, events, or things that says support is available to provide a reason for a claim. ↑ ↑ ↑ –  Warrant. A general statement that justifies using the grounds as a basis for the claim –  Backing. Any support (specific instance, statistics, B W Q testimony, values, or credibility) that provides more specific data for the grounds or warrant. –  Qualifier. A statement that indicates the force of ↑ the argument (words such as certainly, possibly, probably, usually, or somewhat).•  Warrants can be generalizations, cause, sign, analogy, authority. B•  Backing can be anecdote, stats, testimony, credibility, and values.Rieke, R. D & Sillars, M. O. (1997). Argumentation and critical decision making.New York: Longman.
  23. 23. Back to the Tortillas: Burnt Flour ModelGrounds. Dusting Claim. Burnt blackflour is spread onto flour deposits isthe moving dough on mistaken for mold,a continuous tortilla resulting in qualityline. complaints Warrant. Excess flour becomes airborne & Qualifier. Sometimes burn in the oven, deposits (authority). Backing. Client story & increased flour results in increased spot problem.
  24. 24. Tradeoff: Improve Backing or Solve Problem•  In resource limited environment, often face decision: –  Should you improve warrant and backing? –  Or should you work on solving the problem?•  Can be difficult choice.•  Key query: If assume correctness of warrant/ backing & wrong, will you fail to solve problem?•  Tortilla problem: Students took explanation as true because it didn’t affect investigation (reducing dusting flour usage  reduces this side effect).
  25. 25. Illinois  Engineering  Freshman  Experience   (iEFX)   iLaunch   iCommunity   ENG100++  2   ENG100++   Hands-­‐on   Missing   Projects   Basics   iExpo   iCheckpoint ©  2011  David  E.  Goldberg  
  26. 26. Motivation for Other 1/2 of Talk•  Sometimes hard to listen to what other tribes say about your tribe.•  Engineers speak about engineering in triumphant way.•  Philosophers speak about engineers in ways that contain.•  Turnabout as fair play, but with serious point about historical perspective.
  27. 27. Example: Defining Engineers Institutionally•  M. Davis, Thinking Like an Engineer, Oxford, 1999.•  Uses institutional definition of engineer.•  Close reading definitions are shifty.•  Depends upon (a) advanced knowledge, (b) professional standing & (c) contrast to other occupations/professionals.•  He insists upon use of term “protoengineer” for those who Michael Davis (b. 1943) come before “engineers” in Davis’s sense.•  What if I did immediate turnabout is fair play?
  28. 28. Davis’s Method of Defining•  3 elements: –  Rejects going back to origins of technology: “We will understand the professions better if we start their history with the rise of modern markets…” (Davis, 1999, p.9). –  Compares and contrasts different occupations/ professions to elicit significant features: architect v. engineer, scientist v. engineer, lawyer v. engineer. –  Does not study precursors (“protoengineers”) in depth: e.g., Refusal to consider Vitruvius’s engineering work as engineering, for example.•  How does this work for philosophy/philosophers?
  29. 29. Davis’s Method Applied to Philosophy•  3 elements: –  Division of labor: Must reject study of philosophy/philosophers until there is clear academic division of labor: Birth of the modern university (University of Bologna, 1088). –  Compare & contrast: Philosophy was a catchall phrase. Probably need to wait for division of labor in 18-19th century. –  Ignore precursors: Cannot study guild- like apprenticeships conferred by Plato in the Academy or Aristotle in Lyceum.•  Conclusion: Socrates, Plato & Aristotle were not philosophers. Sorcrates (469 BC – 399 BC)•  Must call them protophilosophers. Early Protophilosopher
  30. 30. Vice Versa: Argumentation as Engineering•  Outline of argument: 1.  Argument is an externalization of human thought processes believed to be correct. 2.  Artifacts are first fully expressive externalization of human thought processes. 3.  Research on naturalistic decision making suggest that mental simulation processes similar to those of argumentation. 4.  Therefore, first tech artifacts may be thought of as first expressive evidence of argument-like processes in human ancestors. 5.  OK to think oral or written arguments as offspring of first engineering efforts.•  Go back 2.5mya.
  31. 31. Tech Histories Don’t Go Back Far Enough •  Let’s start 2.5mya. •  Homo habilis: First tool maker, 4’-3” tall, 88 pounds, bipedal hominid. •  Lived on open savanna (Lake Turkana) •  Social. •  Made and used stone flakes. •  Did not speak (de Boer, 2005).de  Boer,  B.  (2005)  The  EvoluUon  of  Speech,  in:  Brown,  K  (Ed.)  Encyclopedia  of  Language  and  LinguisUcs  2nd  ediUon,  Elsevier.  
  32. 32. Oldowan Tools•  First discovered by Louis Leakey.•  Used 2.5mya to 0.5 mya.•  Know they were used by scavengers.•  Scrape carcass clean of meat following kill by another animal.•  First known fully expressive externalization of human thought.
  33. 33. Homo Ergaster•  Better tools around 1.6-1.7 mya.•  Hand axes and cleaving tools with sharp edges.•  Butchering of large animals.•  Tamed fire.•  Still not talking.
  34. 34. Naturalistic Decision Making•  Gary Klein has studied how those under pressure make decisions.•  Naturalistic decision making.•  Rational decision making used infrequently & not under pressure.•  Cannot know Homo habilis mind.•  Assumption: Homo habilis mind was likely similar to our minds under pressure.
  35. 35. The Role of Mental Simulation•  Klein identifies different modes, recognition primed decision & constructive decision, for example.•  Mental simulation is key to all.•  Many decisions made with single simulation that shows adequacy.•  Satisficing: First adequate solution chosen.•  Imagined artifact simulated step by step.•  Key point: No need for language here. Mental pictures all that is required.
  36. 36. Object Then Made & Used•  Steps: –  Artifact imagined in context of use. –  Simulated step by step. –  Device created. –  Used for simulated purpose.•  Step by step imaging of adequacy a causal chain played out in mind.•  Thus, creation of first tech artifacts are first, external fully expressive evidence of human step-by-step mental simulation.•  argument-like reasoning.•  Thus argumentation may be viewed as offspring of engineering.
  37. 37. Speech Invented Later•  Once speech & language around, mental simulations can be augmented with language.•  Use longstanding processes with speech.•  Chaining together speech in this way ultimately leads to the notion of an argument.•  Precursor in mentally simulating and then creating external physical artifacts key step on road to argumentation.•  Argumentation as refinement of engineering of artifacts: Argumentation may be viewed as a form of engineering applied to linguistic constructs.
  38. 38. Bottom LineEngineering as Argumentation Argumentation as Engineering•  Engineers are broad-spectrum •  Notion of argument as modelers. external representation of•  Qual is part of the canon. mental reasoning traces•  Toulmin’s model provides back to engineered unifying framework for math, artifacts. science, & qualitative •  Tech as first shared modeling. representation of output of•  Introduction to students helpful mental simulation. in aligning behavior with needs of practice. •  Packaging of mental•  Makes “soft skills” part of constructs. engineering not something •  Sometimes forget ancient apart. prehistory of engineered artifacts.
  39. 39. For More Information•  ThreeJoy Associates, Inc:•  Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education (iFoundry):•  Philosophical writings on PhilSci archive: search (author search for Goldberg).••  This and related powerpoints: