Philosophy of Engineering and the Quest for a Novel Notion of Experimentation

  • Viola SchiaffonatiEmail author
Part of the Philosophy of Engineering and Technology book series (POET, volume 31)


Epistemological issues in engineering knowledge have traditionally played a central role in the debate over the assessment of the philosophy of engineering as a disciplinary field. However, only few works have explicitly focused on experimental methodology and attempted to systematically compare the traditional experimental method of the natural sciences to the kind of experimentation carried out in engineering research. In this paper, by investigating some areas of computer engineering, and in particular autonomous robotics, I claim that traditional experimentation cannot be always applied as such to computer engineering and that the notion of explorative experiment is a good candidate to be considered. Explorative experiments are a form of investigation of novel ideas or techniques without the typical constraints of rigorous experimental methodologies. They are driven by the desire of investigating the realm of possibilities pertaining to the functioning of a technical artefact and its interaction with the environment in the absence of a proper theory or theoretical background.


Experimental method Experimental computer science and engineering Technoscience Explorative experiment Autonomous robotics 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Elettronica, Informazione e BioingegneriaPolitecnico di MilanoMilanoItaly

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