, Volume 191, Issue 10, pp 2255–2279

Critical rationalism and engineering: ontology


DOI: 10.1007/s11229-014-0396-3

Cite this article as:
Staples, M. Synthese (2014) 191: 2255. doi:10.1007/s11229-014-0396-3


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 

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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