The rise of classic Euro-American philosophy of technology in the 1950s originally emphasized the importance of technologies as material entities and their mediating influence within human experience. Recent decades, however, have witnessed a subtle shift toward reflection on the activity from which these distinctly modern artifacts emerge and through which they are engaged and managed, that is, on engineering. What is engineering? What is the meaning of engineering? How is engineering related to other aspects of human existence? Such basic questions readily engage all major branches of philosophy --- ontology, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics --- although not always to the same degree. The historico-philosophical and critical reflections collected here record a series of halting steps to think through engineering and the engineered way of life that we all increasingly live in what has been called the Anthropocene. The aim is not to promote an ideology for engineering but to stimulate deeper reflection among engineers and non-engineers alike about some basic challenges of our engineered and engineering lifeworld.
Preface & Acknowledgments / Introduction: Engineering as a Philosophical Issue / Part I: Philosophy of Engineering in General / 1. Science, Technology, Engineering, and the Military / 2. Ethics into Design / 3. The Importance of Philosophy to Engineering / 4. From Dasein to Design:The Problematics of Turning Making into Thinking / 5. Professional Idealism among Scientists and Engineers: A Neglected Tradition in STS Studies / 6. Can Engineering Be Philosophical? / 7. Convivial Software:An End-User Perspective on Free and Open Source Software / 8. Comparing Approaches to the Philosophy of Engineering / Part II Ethics, Engineering and Design / 9. A Spectrum of Ideals in Engineering Ethics, Simplified / 10. The Concept of Sustainability:Origins and Ambivalences / 11. Engineering Ethics Education in the American Context:Retrospect and Prospect / 12. Notes on Engineering Ethics in Global Perspective / 13. Humanitarian Engineering / 14. The Philosophical Inadequacy of Engineering / 15. The True Grand Challenge for Engineering: Self-Knowledge / 16. From Engineering Ethics to Politics / Part III: Toward a Political Philosophy of Engineering / 17. Engineering Policy: Exploratory Reflections / 18. Energy Constraints / 19. Can Philosophy Be Engineering? / 20. In Conclusions / Appendix: On Engineering Use and Convenience / References / Index
Carl Mitcham is International Distinguished Professor of Philosophy of Technology at Renmin University of China and Professor Emeritus of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at the Colorado School of Mines. His publications include Thinking through Technology (1994), and Ethics and Science: An Introduction (2012, with Adam Briggle).
Carl Mitcham is one of the most authoritative voices in the philosophy of technology in Spain. His lifelong work has contributed to the understanding of how Western culture has changed through technology, having written important classics in this field. This new volume provides a new perspective on engineering as that form of human agency from which modern technology emerges.
In my view, modernity has created a technocracy, a world where large-scale engineering projects as well as engineers of all types (civil, mechanical, chemical, electrical, computer ... even social) play leading roles. As Mitcham argues, philosophy must not ignore this reality.
Mitcham convincingly shows why the engineering design stance is a better perspective to understand the intricacies of knowledge production and its problems than the approach based on science, technology or innovation. It also enables us to truly understand the world we live in. This book sets out the first steps for setting an agenda for an invigorating philosophical work.
Across the past three decades, few scholars have thought as carefully or cogently as Carl Mitcham about the technoscientific world taking shape around us. In Steps toward the Philosophy of Engineering, we are treated to many of his best thoughts all in one place. This is destined to be a landmark text.