Quora answer: Do we need philosophy of science?

What is not realized by many is that all the things that have been found out by philosophers of science, also apply to engineering. Science and Engineering are two sides of the same technological coin, we need instruments to do experiments and someone has to build those instruments. And so philosophy of science is also a philosophy of engineering, and that has even deeper implications than philosophy of science quandaries that have been discovered.

Personally I like Feyerabend’s Against Method. And this applies to the ad hoc nature of engineering work just as much as science. The difference between the two is that one is about the theory of the design of nature, and the other is about the practice of the design of artificial cultural objects. But the idea that there are surefire methods that can guide us in our discovery of how nature works, or what works in some engineering discipline has to be given up eventually, and we need to instead value human creativity more. What is so interesting is that in our culture the names of the discoverers among scientists are preserved, while Engineers are anonymous working for corporations. So there is a Hegelian Master/Slave relation between Scientists and Engineers. But other than that they are both of the same ilk, both concerned with design, except one looks to understand the design that already exists in nature, while the other one looks to impose a design on nature to create something that has emergent properties that did not exist before.

So what do we need Philosophy of Science for? My answer is both for Science and Engineering because they are two janus faces of the same thing.




Posted January 26, 2011 by kentpalmer in Uncategorized

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