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Practical Reasoning and Engineering

Elsevier B.V.
DOI: 10.1016/b978-0-444-51667-1.50018-5
  • Design
  • Engineering
  • Philosophy


Publisher Summary Engineering is to science as practical reasoning is to theoretical reasoning. This is a crude analogy, but it has the kernel of truth to it. Science aims to learn facts about the world around us, while engineering aims to change that world in order to further the aims and goals. Science is successful if it generates true beliefs—in other words if it is successful as a method of theoretical reasoning—and engineering is successful to the extent that it provides means to satisfy the needs and desires, i.e. if it is successful as a method of practical reasoning. Engineering is a method for creating practical devices and processes. Engineering design is the systematic, intelligent generation and evaluation of specifications for artifacts whose form and function achieve stated objectives and satisfy specified constraints. The engineering method—that is, the design process—has an explicit practical end. It makes sense to understand the process, both in its general terms and in specific applications, in terms of practical philosophy.

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