Philosophy of Engineering

Does Kuhn’s story of the exemplar mechanism apply as well to engineering as it applies to pure science? Interestingly, in an article entitled ‘The Essential Tension’ in a book of the same title, Kuhn himself suggested not. In so doing, Kuhn inverted common stereotypes of scientists and engineers. The common stereotype of the pure scientist is a kind of Einstein figure, wildly intelligent and unconventional, full of new ideas that come from nowhere. The common stereotype of the engineer is rather different, of someone earnest and hard-working, but much more intellectually conservative. Kuhn proposed that the truth has in a way to be the opposite of this, because it is the pure scientist who can very often afford to be intellectually conservative and it is the engineer who must sometimes be unconventional. The reason the scientist can afford to be conservative is because she gets to choose her own problems. So she can use the exemplar mechanism as a mechanism of problem selection. She can choose new problems which seem to her to be similar to the problem that she has already solved, so she can afford to be conservative in the techniques that she applies to solve those new problems. Engineers, by contrast, have their problems imposed from without, as argued earlier. So they have no reason to suppose that the problems they have to solve will be all that similar to the problems they have already solved. It is therefore the engineer who may have to be more adventurous, and more of an intellectual opportunist. The exemplar mechanism will have less force and power for the engineer, therefore, than for the pure scientist. And we might expect that the dramatic contrast that Kuhn finds between normal and revolutionary science is considerably attenuated in the case of engineering, in part because, if Kuhn’s suggestion is along the right lines then ‘normal’ engineering is more revolutionary and ‘revolutionary’ engineering more normal than those periods are in pure science.
—  Peter Lipton, Engineering and Truth

anonymous asked:

So imagine this Luke college au. He's your crush and he's not doing so great in a class you two share so you offer to tutor him.

Originally posted by outofficial

Luke is great at philosophy and engineering, but he desperately needs your help in this marine biology class he had no choice but to take since it was the only open science elective left and he just needed to fill the credits. You two met in the class and he can see you’re really good at it (this is your major, after all) and he also thinks you’re the most attractive person on campus, so he asks for your help.

When you’re writing down notes as you tutor Luke, he can’t stop staring at your hands. He can’t help but wonder how they’d look held in his own. He’s hardly paying attention - he starts to space out because he’s distracted by the way your shorts look on your thighs as you shift some papers and reveal some skin in the process. 

“Luke? Do you wanna pass or not?” You tease when you catch him drifting into space. Luke apologizes, pays attention for about seven minutes, and then is distracted by the curve of your lips when you smile and the twinkle in your eyes when you talk about what you’re passionate about - something that he’s not familiar with since he’s from a farm, so it’s not only interesting because it’s new but interesting because you make it interesting with how much you love it - and he’s head over heels at this point.

You’re surprised when Luke cuts you off mid-sentence to kiss you, and you just drop your pen and reciprocate the kiss. Luke apologizes with a nervous chuckle as he pulls away but you pull him back and let Luke shove the notebooks away.