Technical Functions

On the Use and Design of Artefacts

  • Wybo Houkes
  • P.E. Vermaas

Part of the Philosophy of Engineering and Technology book series (POET, volume 1)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-viii
  2. Wybo Houkes, Pieter E. Vermaas
    Pages 1-13
  3. Wybo Houkes, Pieter E. Vermaas
    Pages 15-44
  4. Wybo Houkes, Pieter E. Vermaas
    Pages 45-76
  5. Wybo Houkes, Pieter E. Vermaas
    Pages 77-100
  6. Wybo Houkes, Pieter E. Vermaas
    Pages 101-116
  7. Wybo Houkes, Pieter E. Vermaas
    Pages 117-136
  8. Wybo Houkes, Pieter E. Vermaas
    Pages 137-160
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 161-175

About this book


This first book-length study in the philosophy of technical artefacts and their technical functions presents a new action-theoretical account of using and designing called the ICE theory. This theory connects the material side of technical artefacts with the aims of everyday users and the tasks of engineers when designing for those everyday users.

Wybo Houkes and Pieter Vermaas have developed ICE theory in close contact with the engineering literature on designing and the literature on functions in the philosophy of biology and philosophy of mind. As such the book is a telling example of the successful new school of philosophy of technology that is aimed at understanding engineering and technology on their own merits.

The book presents the reader with a broad and detailed understanding of technical artefacts and their functions, which is sensitive to the dynamic and socially structured practices of using and designing. This understanding shows how our technology-saturated everyday life can be subjected to rigorous philosophical analysis, and how artefacts and technical functions provide an area of inquiry that is equally fascinating as, but genuinely different from, biological items and their functions.


Analysis of testimony Art Design engineering Designing plans ICE funtion theory Technical artefacts artefact design artefact use artefacts and actions biological functions philosophy of engineering planning theory of action relativism science technical functions

Authors and affiliations

  • Wybo Houkes
    • 1
  • P.E. Vermaas
    • 2
  1. 1.EindhovenNetherlands
  2. 2.Dept. PhilosophyDelft University of TechnologyDelftNetherlands

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Engineering Engineering (R0)
  • Print ISBN 978-90-481-3899-9
  • Online ISBN 978-90-481-3900-2
  • Series Print ISSN 1879-7202
  • Series Online ISSN 1879-7210
  • Buy this book on publisher's site