Engineering, science and biology

  • Wybo Houkes
  • Pieter E. Vermaas
Part of the Philosophy of Engineering and Technology book series (POET, volume 1)


The ICE-theory accounts for two types of functional descriptions of artefacts: function ascriptions relative to use plans and ascriptions of functional roles based on plan-less physicochemical analyses. We put forward the first type as central to technology. In this chapter we continue our discussion of plan-less functional descriptions, and review a number of engineering functional descriptions that seem to challenge the central role of plan-relative function ascriptions. The discussion stays initially within the domain of technology, but provides us with the means to consider also how the ICE-theory fares in dealing with functional descriptions outside this domain.


Function Theory Functional Description Technical Artefact Counterpart Theory Biological Domain 
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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy & Ethics of TechnologyEindhoven University of TechnologyEindhovenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

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