In the second article he wrote that philosophy of science ， at that time, was a fully accepted and highly respected branch of philosophy, while philosophy of engineering carried as much professional distinction as philosophy of parapsychology.
However Goldman took an optimistic view of the future of philosophy of engineering. He holds that philosophy of engineering should be the paradigm for philosophy of science, rather than the reverse.
While my views on philosophy of engineering are similar to Goldman’s , the majority of philosophers, I guess, may doubt very much whether philosophy of engineering should be the paradigm for philosophy of science.
We must pay attention to an amazing and enlightening fact that while engineering as productive practice has a history of more than two millions years, science has a history of only about two thousands years. However the overwhelming majority of philosophers ignore the importance of engineering, which Goldman considered a strong Western prejudice.
Goldman expressly pointed out:“[T]he Western intellectual tradition display a clear preference for understanding over doing, for contemplation over operation, for theory over experiment.”He listed a series of evidences to show that there is a Western prejudice against engineering. Similar to Goldman, Cecelia Tichi called the engineer “the invisible man of American studies.”
In the beginning of 80s of last century I began to study philosophy of engineering. In 1992, When an international conference on philosophy of science was held in Beijing, I presented to the conference an essay entitled “A Short Introduction to engineering realism”. Two years later I published an article “I Create therefore I am” in which I expanded my idea. Now I am pleased that I have an opportunity to discuss again some issues relevant to engineering realism about eighteen years later.
In contrast with 90s of last century when there were only very few scholars who conducted researches in the field of philosophy of engineering, a growing number of philosophers and engineers began to pay more attention to the research of philosophy of engineering at the beginning of 21 st century.
Although philosophy of engineering is only a fledgling academic subdiscipline, it sets a ambitious goal because it challenges both the Western intellectual tradition and the Eastern intellectual tradition.
Although we should admit that philosophy of engineering is a subfield of philosophy, it is important to emphasize that the studies in philosophy of engineering also mean the studies in philosophy per se to a great extent.
That is to say, conducting researches in the field of philosophy of engineering, we must rethink, reconsider, reconstruct, reanimate and revive the existing theories and structure of philosophy. We should present new conceptions, new approach, new interpretation and new framework.
Without new frameworks and new ontological and methodological studies in philosophy of engineering from new perspectives there would not be such a subdiscipline properly called philosophy of engineering.
In 80s of last century philosophers had a heated argument about scientific reality. While some philosophers advocated scientific realism, others advocated antirealism. That time, inspired by scientific realism, I proposed engineering realism.
I found that the progress from scientific realism to engineering realism means a Columbian navigation, a navigation from the land of philosophy of science to the land of philosophy of engineering, but not a Copernican revolution in the field of philosophy of science.
From my point of view, engineering reality consists of two kinds of reality: material engineering reality as results of engineering activities and social engineering reality as subjects carrying out engineering activities.
I have published an article explaining my thesis on enterprises as social reality.
Social Reality: Enterprise Serving as a Model. Philosophical Researches .5(2009):pp.104-110
It is noted that engineering projects are carried out by a group, or an engineering community, but not by a single individual. This is so important that it deserves special emphasis.
As a result of the fact that engineering projects are carried out by a team, a enterprise, or a firm, which means an engineering community, it is necessary that we give special priority to researches of engineering community in the field of philosophy of engineering.
We must pay attention to the fact that without workers there would not be engineering community and engineering activities, without investors there would not engineering community and engineering activities, without managers there would not be engineering community and engineering activities, and without engineers, of course, there would not be engineering community and engineering activities.
Although the terms “macro” and “micro” have been used in the field of economics for a long time, the term “meso” has almost not been used. About two decades ago, some economists put forward that a meso level is not only different from a macro level but also different from a micro level.
Some economists began to study mesoeconomics and laid stress on the importance of a meso level in 80s of last century. But until now they did not have a really wide influence.
Later Some scholars put forward a micro-meso-macro framework in the field of business ethics. Since then a few moralists, such as K. E. Goodpaster, R. Jeurissen and G. Enderle, have adopted the micro-meso-macro framework.
Ronald Jeurissen (1997) stetes: “The micro-level is the level of the individual in the organization. Meso is the level of the organization, its structure and culture. Macro is the level of institutions, the market, government, cultural traditions and the like.” Some business ethicists, including Ronald Jeurissen, Georges Enderle, emphasized the importance of integration of micro, meso and macro levels in the field of business ethics.
However Dopfer et al define the meso as a rule and its population of actualizations. The definitions of micro and macro by Dopfer et al are also different from those by Ronald Jeurissen to a limited extent.
K. Dopfer, J. Foster and J. Potts define a generic rule and its population of actualizations as a ‘meso unit’. In their view, “Micro involves a change in the composition and how they interact. Macro involves a change in the coordination structure among meso units.”
“ The essential point to grasp here is that macro is not a behavioural aggregation of micro, but, rather, it offers a system perspective on meso viewed as a whole. Similarly, micro is not the reduced essence of an economic system; it is a ‘bottom up’ systems perspective on meso when viewed in terms of its component parts. The economic system is built upon meso; micro and macro are two perspectives that reveal the structural aspects of the in the meso populations that constitute the elementary units of the economic system.” (p.267)
Based on the micro-meso-macro framework, it is possible to treat many debatable and perplexing philosophical problems from a new perspective. We will gain a clearer conception of reality, realism, individualism, institutions, rules, shared knowledge, and so on.
Engineering is an extremely complex phenomenon. For one thing, we should study engineering from different point of view ， for example, philosophical, economic, sociological, managerial, institutional and psychological point of view; for another, we should study engineering on three levels, namely, microlevel, mesolevel and macrolevel.
from the linguistic point of view, it is not only “I”, “you”, “he” and “she”, but also “we”, “you” and “they” become subjects. In an engineering community individuals become members of the community. From the methodological and ontological point of view, an independent individual and the same people as a member of the community are both identical and separate.