Advertisement

Rational Goals in Engineering Design: The Venice Dams

  • Karin Edvardsson Björnberg
Chapter
Part of the Philosophy of Engineering and Technology book series (POET, volume 9)

Abstract

The rationality of scientific goals has been a much discussed topic in philosophy of science since the publication of Larry Laudan’s Science and Values in 1984 (e.g. Iranzo 1995; Baumslag 1998; Cíntora 1999). Until now, significantly less attention has been paid to the rationality of engineering goals, although exceptions exist (e.g. Hughes 2009; Kroes et al. 2009; de Vries 2009). As goals have a central action-directing and coordinating function in the engineering design process, there seems to be a gap in the research. Engineering projects usually start with an identified customer need or desire that is transformed into a set of functional requirements and design specifications for the development of the artefact. These needs, requirements and specifications serve as criteria for the development, testing, evaluation and readjustment of different design solutions. Negotiating and trading off different and often competing requirements is therefore an essential part of the engineering design process.

Keywords

Engineering Design Goal Achievement Functional Requirement Design Solution Venice Lagoon 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank Professor Marc de Vries, Professor Sven Ove Hansson and Professor Peter Kroes for their valuable comments and suggestions. I would also like to thank the participants at Track 7: Philosophy of Engineering and Design at the 2011 Society for Philosophy and Technology (SPT) conference in Denton, Texas, for their comments. Any remaining errors, if any, are mine.

References

  1. Baumslag, D. 1998. Choosing scientific goals: The need for a normative approach. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 29(1): 81–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bratman, M.E. 1999. Intention, plans, and practical reason. Stanford: CSLI Publications.Google Scholar
  3. Bucciarelli, L.L. 1994. Designing engineers. Cambridge, MA/London: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  4. Campion, M.A., and R.G. Lord. 1982. A control systems conceptualization of the goal-setting and changing process. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 30(2): 265–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cíntora, A. 1999. Critical comments on Laudan’s theory of scientific aims. Sorites 10: 19–38.Google Scholar
  6. Cross, N. 2000. Engineering design methods: Strategies for product design, 3rd ed. Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
  7. de Vries, M.J. 2009. Translating customer requirements into technical specifications. In Handbook of the philosophy of science. Vol. 9: Philosophy of technology and engineering sciences, ed. A. Meijers, 489–512. Amsterdam: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Deheyn, D.D., and L.R. Shaffer. 2007. Saving Venice: Engineering and ecology in the Venice lagoon. Technology in Society 29: 205–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dieter, G.E. 1991. Engineering Design: A Materials and Processing Approach, 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  10. Edvardsson Björnberg, K. 2008. Utopian goals: Four objections and a cautious defence. Philosophy in the Contemporary World 15(1): 139–154.Google Scholar
  11. Edvardsson Björnberg, K. 2009. What relations can hold among goals, and why does it matter? Crítica Revista Hispanoamericana de Filosofía 41(121): 47–66.Google Scholar
  12. Edvardsson, K., and S.O. Hansson. 2005. When is a goal rational? Social Choice and Welfare 24(2): 343–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Eprim, Y. 2005. Venice mobile barriers project: Barrier caissons construction details. In Flooding and environmental challenges for Venice and its Lagoon: State of knowledge, ed. C.A. Fletcher and T. Spencer, 257–262. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Ertas, A., and J.C. Jones. 1996. The engineering design process, 2nd ed. Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
  15. Franssen, M. 2005. Arrow’s theorem, multi-criteria decision problems and multi-attribute preferences in engineering design. Research in Engineering Design 16(1–2): 42–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Franssen, M., and L.L. Bucciarelli. 2004. On rationality in engineering design. Journal of Mechanical Design 126(6): 945–949.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Franssen, M., Lokhorst, G.-J., and I. van de Poel. 2009. Philosophy of technology. In The stanford encyclopedia of philosophy, ed. Edward N. Zalta, plato.stanford.edu/entries/technology/. Publisher is: The Metaphysics Research Lab, Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305–4115.Google Scholar
  18. Hansson, S.O. 1998. Should we avoid moral dilemmas? The Journal of Value Inquiry 32(3): 407–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Huff, C. 2008. It is not all straw, but it can catch fire: In defense of impossible ideals in computing. Science and Engineering Ethics 14: 241–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hughes, J. 2009. Practical reasoning and engineering. In Handbook of the philosophy of science. Vol. 9: Philosophy of technology and engineering sciences, ed. A. Meijers, 375–402. Amsterdam: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Iranzo, V. 1995. Epistemic values in science. Sorites 1: 81–95.Google Scholar
  22. Kroes, P. 2009. Foundational issues of engineering design. In Handbook of the philosophy of science. Vol. 9: Philosophy of technology and engineering sciences, ed. A. Meijers, 513–541. Amsterdam: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kroes, P., M. Franssen, and L. Bucciarelli. 2009. Rationality in design. In Handbook of the philosophy of science. Vol. 9: Philosophy of technology and engineering sciences, ed. A. Meijers, 565–600. Amsterdam: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Laudan, L. 1984. Science and values: The aims of science and their role in scientific debate. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  25. Levi, I. 1986. Hard choices: Decision making under unresolved conflict. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Locke, E.A., and G.P. Latham. 1990. A theory of goal setting and task performance. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  27. Locke, E.A., and G.P. Latham. 2002. Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35-year odyssey. American Psychologist 57(9): 705–717.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Maimon, O., and D. Braha. 1996. On the complexity of the design synthesis problem. IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics – Part A: Systems and Humans 26(1): 142–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McCann, H.J. 1991. Settled objectives and rational constraints. American Philosophical Quarterly 28: 25–36. (Reprinted in Mele, A.R. (ed.). 1997. The philosophy of action, 204–222. Oxford: Oxford University Press.)Google Scholar
  30. Miller, K.W. 2008. Critiquing a critique. A comment on “A critique of positive responsibility in computing”. Science and Engineering Ethics 14(2): 245–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nozick, R. 1993. The nature of rationality. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Pahl, G., and W. Breitz. 1996. Engineering design: A systematic approach, 2nd ed. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  33. Rosencrantz, H., K. Edvardsson, and S.O. Hansson. 2007. Vision zero – Is it irrational? Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice 41(6): 559–567.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Schmidtz, D. 1995. Rational choice and moral agency. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Spencer, T., P.M. Guthrie, J. Da Mosto, and C.A. Fletcher. 2005. Introduction: Large-scale engineering solutions to storm surge flooding. In Flooding and environmental challenges for Venice and its Lagoon: State of knowledge, ed. C.A. Fletcher and T. Spencer, 241–244. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Stedry, A.C., and E. Kay. 1966. The effects of goal difficulty on performance: A field experiment. Behavioural Science 11(6): 459–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Stieb, J.A. 2008. A critique of positive responsibility in computing. Science and Engineering Ethics 14(2): 219–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Royal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden

Personalised recommendations