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Thoughts of a Reflective Engineer on Vol. 9Handbook of the Philosophy of Science Volume 9: Philosophy of Technology and En...
What’s a Nice Civil Engineer Doing <br />On a panel like this?<br />Asked to review a handbook: AnthonieMeijers (Ed.) (in ...
Was I Philosophically Ready?<br />Or “advanced” to dangerous?<br />Was I clueless?<br />
Would I Be Considered Alien Life Form?<br />Of one kind<br />Or another<br />
Or Possibly as Bothersome to Baby Whales?<br />
Real Concern: How to Frame the Review?<br />Dimensions of Problem:<br />Need to reflect on volume.<br />Stay within expert...
Why Philosophy? Why Now? What Needed?<br />Why might engineers be interested in philosophy now?<br />What will they be int...
Copyright © 2007 by David E. Goldberg<br />Why Philosophy? Why Now?Engineering Responds to the Crisis of a Creative Age<br...
Copyright © 2007 by David E. Goldberg<br />Response to Crisis of Creative Age<br />Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revo...
Part VI. Philosophical Issues in Engineering DisciplinesSven OveHansson (Ed.)<br />Tumult of times reflection in selection...
BreyandSøraker: Computing & IT<br />Broad coverage and well organized.<br />Diverse conceptions of computer science.<br />...
Missing Basics: What Engineers Don’t Learnand Why They Don’t Learn It<br /><ul><li>Lacunae in engineering education.
No definition of engineering offered or relation to science discussed.
Math-science death march gives impression that engineering = applied science.
The missing basics versus the basics (math, sci, eng sci):
Question: Socrates 101.
Label: Aristotle 101.
Model conceptually: Hume 101 & Aristotle 102.
Decompose: Descartes 101.
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Thoughts of a Reflective Engineer on Volume 9: Handbook of the Philosophy of Science Volume 9, Philosophy of Technology and Engineering Sciences

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Review of the forthcoming Elsevier handbook on Philosophy of Technology & Engineering Sciences, A Meijers (Ed.). Disclaimer: David E. Goldberg is a registered engineer in Pennsylvania. The use of the PE seal in this context is intended as an informal endorsement and carries no legal force.

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  • Philosophy is worthless, and it is especially worthless to engineers. http://seansreflectivejournal.blogspot.com/2010/07/metaphilosophical-skepticism.html
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Transcript of "Thoughts of a Reflective Engineer on Volume 9: Handbook of the Philosophy of Science Volume 9, Philosophy of Technology and Engineering Sciences"

  1. 1. Thoughts of a Reflective Engineer on Vol. 9Handbook of the Philosophy of Science Volume 9: Philosophy of Technology and Engineering Sciences <br />David E. Goldberg<br />Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education<br />University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign<br />Champaign, Illinois 61801 USA<br />deg@illinois.edu<br />
  2. 2. What’s a Nice Civil Engineer Doing <br />On a panel like this?<br />Asked to review a handbook: AnthonieMeijers (Ed.) (in press). Handbook of the Philosophy of Science, Volume 9: Philosophy of Technology & Engineering Sciences, Elsevier.<br />Co-Chair of Workshop on Philosophy & Engineering in 2007 and 2008.<br />Viewed it as an opportunity to continue my philosophy education.<br />But mindful that I am no expert, or even qualified to offer critical review.<br />So as engineer standing in front of SPT had certain concerns.<br />
  3. 3. Was I Philosophically Ready?<br />Or “advanced” to dangerous?<br />Was I clueless?<br />
  4. 4. Would I Be Considered Alien Life Form?<br />Of one kind<br />Or another<br />
  5. 5. Or Possibly as Bothersome to Baby Whales?<br />
  6. 6. Real Concern: How to Frame the Review?<br />Dimensions of Problem:<br />Need to reflect on volume.<br />Stay within expertise as engineer.<br />Add to growing dialog between philosophers and engineers.<br />Adopt perspective of engineer consumer of philosophy of technology and engineering science in opening of 21st century.<br />Connection to Diane Michelfelder’s remarks about APA: “Looking for love in all the wrong places.”<br />
  7. 7. Why Philosophy? Why Now? What Needed?<br />Why might engineers be interested in philosophy now?<br />What will they be interested in knowing & doing?<br />How does the volume help answer these questions and needs?<br />What else might have been useful?<br />Ways the volume will benefit my taking philosophy seriously.<br />
  8. 8. Copyright © 2007 by David E. Goldberg<br />Why Philosophy? Why Now?Engineering Responds to the Crisis of a Creative Age<br />WPE-2007: Why are such strange bedfellows gathering now?<br />Philosophers<br />Humanists<br />Contemplative<br />Articulate<br />Abstract<br />Like to argue<br />Reflection in itself<br />Logical<br />Engineers<br />Technologists<br />Action-oriented<br />Linguistically naïve <br />Concrete<br />Like to agree<br />Reflection as instrumental<br />Logical<br />SPT 2009 theme of Converging Technologies answers question in part.<br />
  9. 9. Copyright © 2007 by David E. Goldberg<br />Response to Crisis of Creative Age<br />Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions response to scientific crisis:<br />“I think, particularly in periods of acknowledged crisis that scientists have turned to philosophical analysis as a device for unlocking the riddles of their fields. Some have not generally needed or wanted to be philosophers.…But that is not to say that the search for assumptions cannot be an effective way to weaken the grip of a tradition upon the mind and to suggest the basis for a new one.”<br />Creative era of early 21st century is disorienting to engineers as early 20th century was disorienting to scientists.<br />Thomas S. Kuhn (1922-1996)<br />
  10. 10. Part VI. Philosophical Issues in Engineering DisciplinesSven OveHansson (Ed.)<br />Tumult of times reflection in selections.<br />Contents:<br />Philosophy of Architecture<br />Philosophy of Agricultural Technology<br />Philosophy of Medical Technology<br />Philosophy of Biotechnology<br />Philosophy of Computing and Information Technology, Philip Brey and Johnny HartzSøraker<br />Interesting choices: Two of the big three engineering Os.<br />Queries: Architecture? Nano & philosophy of traditional disciplines? Phil engineering & tech education?<br />
  11. 11. BreyandSøraker: Computing & IT<br />Broad coverage and well organized.<br />Diverse conceptions of computer science.<br />Inclusion of computational philosophy (Conversation with Mark Bedau).<br />Up-to-date coverage of agents, artificial intelligence and artificial life.<br />Quibble: no mention of Genetic algorithms & evolutionary computation.<br />Coverage of internet, virtual worlds, computer-mediated communication.<br />Recommend as worthy read to my CS & GA/EC colleagues.<br />Delightful & useful addition to the field.<br />
  12. 12. Missing Basics: What Engineers Don’t Learnand Why They Don’t Learn It<br /><ul><li>Lacunae in engineering education.
  13. 13. No definition of engineering offered or relation to science discussed.
  14. 14. Math-science death march gives impression that engineering = applied science.
  15. 15. The missing basics versus the basics (math, sci, eng sci):
  16. 16. Question: Socrates 101.
  17. 17. Label: Aristotle 101.
  18. 18. Model conceptually: Hume 101 & Aristotle 102.
  19. 19. Decompose: Descartes 101.
  20. 20. Measure: Bacon-Locke 101.
  21. 21. Visualize/ideate: da Vinci-Monge 101.
  22. 22. Communicate: Newman 101
  23. 23. Volume helpful in clarifying nature of engineering and its relationship to technology and science.</li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009<br />
  24. 24. Engineering’s Place in the World<br />Radder’s intro to Part I: Technology, Engineering & the Sciences (taxonomy of models).<br />All historical chapters:<br />Mitcham & Schatzberg, DefiningTechnology and the Engineering Sciences (approaches to definition, deep scholarship).<br />Channel, The Emergence of the Engineering Sciences: An Historical Analysis(sweep, medieval coverage of the mechanical arts).<br />Buchanan, Thinking about Design: An Historical Perspective.<br />Mueller, The Notion of a Model: A Historical Overview.<br />Zwart, Scale Modeling in Engineering: Froude’s Case (personal interest).<br />Alexander, The Concept of Efficiency: An Historical Analysis (one of few contact points with economy and scarce resources).<br />Mitcham & Briggle, The Interaction of Ethics and Technology in Historical Perspective (easier for engineers to listen to history than rants).<br />Engineering as social enterprise: Sørensen, The Role of Social Science in Engineering, (easy to omit, key to understanding engineering).<br />Engineering as systems enterprise: Pitt, Technological Explanation (elaboration of systems argument in Thinking about Technology).<br />Volume moves inside engineer’s mind.<br />
  25. 25. Part IV: Modeling in Engineering Sciences<br />Personal tale of woe.<br />Modeling like an engineer. <br />Theoretical CS folks objecting to papers: “not a proper model.”<br />Math-Physics envy has limited diversity and breath of modeling that is engineering.<br />Antidote to confusion.<br />Houkes and 4 strategies to epistemic emancipation. <br />
  26. 26. An Economy of Models<br />Argument from early 90s.<br />Models live in plane of predictive power (error) and cost (complexity).<br />Scientists & mathematicians interested in new models.<br />Engineers & inventors interested in new technology. Marshallian analysis at the margins. <br />Marginal cost of modeling will tend to be less than or equal to marginal benefit of modeling (to the technology being developed).<br />ΔB ≥ ΔC<br />
  27. 27. Design Institutional Artifacts that Don’t Exist<br />Many IT products “institutional” in nature.<br />Engineers think in material terms.<br />Design in age of category creators versus category enhancers.<br />Experiences in startup (www.sharethis.com): Designing to avoid creepy ML.<br />Part II,Ontology and Epistemology of Artifacts and Part III, Philosophy of Engineering Design. <br />
  28. 28. Summing Up<br />Scholarly text by leading lights of the field.<br />Thorough coverage: Broader than title suggests.<br />Excellent historical treatment throughout.<br />Enough background material that earnest reflective engineer can read.<br />Solves personal problem: Want to be more scholarly in my own writing, but needed quick guide to key pieces.<br />Now I have it.<br />
  29. 29. Certified for Consumption by Engineers<br />Editor, Associate Editors, and Contributors are to be congratulated on a scholarly, useful contribution to the literature.<br />I hope that engineering colleagues, academic and real world, read learn from, and use this delightful volume.<br />DAVID E. GOLDBERG<br />15127<br />
  30. 30. More Information<br />Slides: www.slideshare.net/deg511<br />iFoundry: http://ifoundry.illinois.edu<br />iFoundryYouTube: http://www.youtube.com/illinoisfoundry<br />iFoundrySlideShare: http://www.slideshare.net/ifoundry<br />TEE, the book. http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470007230.html<br />Engineering and Technology Studies at Illinois (ETSI) http://www-illigal.ge.uiuc.edu/ETSI<br />Workshop on Philosophy & Engineering (WPE)http://www-illigal.ge.uiuc.edu/wpe<br />© David E. Goldberg 2009<br />
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