, Volume 191, Issue 10, pp 2255–2279 | Cite as

Critical rationalism and engineering: ontology

  • Mark Staples


Engineering is often said to be ‘scientific’, but the nature of knowledge in engineering is different to science. Engineering has a different ontological basis—its theories address different entities and are judged by different criteria. In this paper I use Popper’s three worlds ontological framework to propose a model of engineering theories, and provide an abstract logical view of engineering theories analogous to the deductive-nomological view of scientific theories. These models frame three key elements from definitions of engineering: requirements, designs of artefacts, and theories for reasoning about how artefacts will meet requirements. In a subsequent paper I use this ontological basis to explore methodological issues in the growth of engineering knowledge from the perspective of critical rationalism.


Engineering Ontology Critical rationalism 



NICTA is funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Communications and the Australian Research Council through the ICT Centre of Excellence Program.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NICTAKensingtonAustralia
  2. 2.School of Computer Science and EngineeringUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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