Journal for General Philosophy of Science

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 237–260 | Cite as

Software Engineering Between Technics and Science

Recent Discussions about the Foundations and the Scientificness of a Rising Discipline
  • Stefan GrunerEmail author
Essay Review

“Es steht gegenwärtig allen Wissenschaften eine Wiedergeburt in Ansehung ihrer Begriffe und der Geistlosigkeit bevor, die wissenschaftlichen Inhalt in bloßes Material verwandelt und die Begriffe, deren sie zu handhaben gewöhnlich nicht einmal weiß, unkritisch und bewußtlos handhabt” (G.W.F. Hegel, 1807).


This essay-review presents and discusses relevant recent contributions to the science-philosophical and methodological discourse within the discipline of software engineering, about the scientificness of this discipline, also in comparison to other, related disciplines. The main problems in this context are exposed and explained especially for those readers who are not software engineers themselves.

Since the ‘official’ establishment of software engineering as a discipline at the historic NATO Science Conference 1968 in Garmisch, Germany, there has been a rising tide of science-philosophical and methodological discussions about the degree of ‘scientificness’ and/or...


Software Engineering Software Engineer Information System Software Science Engineering Discipline 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Thanks to the students of my Software Engineering seminar in 2008 at the University of Pretoria for interesting discussions on the context of this article. Thanks also to Tom Maibaum for inspiring conversations during the ICFEM International Conference on Formal Engineering Methods in Kitakyushu, Japan, October 2008. Also the fruitful discussions with my colleagues Derrick Kourie and Morkel Theunissen are gratefully acknowledged. I also thank Markus Roggenbach for an example which I have used in Sect. 3. Last but not least thanks to the editors and reviewers of this journal for their thoughtful feedback and helpful comments on the earlier drafts of this contribution, as well as to the production office for their professional typesetting of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer Science, Research Group for Software Science and Formal MethodsUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaRepublic of South Africa

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