The Importance of Philosophy to Engineering

TitleThe Importance of Philosophy to Engineering
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1998
AuthorsMitcham, C.
Secondary TitleTeorema

Philosophy has not paid sufficient attention to engineering. Nevertheless, engineers should not use this as an excuse to ignore philosophy. The argument here is that philosophy is important to engineering for at least three reasons. First, philosophy is necessary so that engineers may understand and defend themselves against philosophical criticisms. In fact, there is a tradition of engineering philosophy that is largely overlooked, even by engineers. Second, philosophy, especially ethics, is necessary to help engineers deal with professional ethical problems. A case study of ethics requirements for U.S. engineering curricula substantiates this point. Third, because of the inherently philosophical character of engineering, philosophy may actually function as a means to greater engineering self-understanding.