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Engineering and the dual nature of technical artefacts


  • Peter Kroes


An analysis of the descriptions of technical artefacts by engineers shows that they use structural and functional concepts in their descriptions. On the basis of this I argue that engineers use a structure-function conception of technical artefacts: technical artefacts are physical structures with functional properties. Taking into account the different nature of structural (physical) and functional properties, I put forward the claim that technical artefacts have a dual nature. This dual nature is interpreted in an epistemological and an ontological sense. In order to explicate the role of human intentions in the ontology of technical artefacts the paper closes with a brief examination of the relation between this dual nature conception of technical artefacts and Thomasson's theory of the metaphysical status of artefact kinds as mind-dependent entities. Copyright The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Cambridge Political Economy Society. All rights reserved., Oxford University Press.

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  • Peter Kroes, 2010. "Engineering and the dual nature of technical artefacts," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(1), pages 51-62, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:34:y:2010:i:1:p:51-62

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    Cited by:

    1. Philip Faulkner & Clive Lawson & Jochen Runde, 2010. "Theorising technology," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(1), pages 1-16, January.

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