University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Engineering Department Structures Research Seminars > The discipline called 'The history and philosophy of science' is over a century old. 'The history and philosophy of [structural] engineering' is still an infant.

The discipline called 'The history and philosophy of science' is over a century old. 'The history and philosophy of [structural] engineering' is still an infant.

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Lorna Everett.

Many of the world’s best universities, including Cambridge, have departments of History and Philosophy of Science. Generally speaking, the history and philosophy of science deals with the history of ideas, especially scientific method and the nature of scientific knowledge – its epistemology.

The History of Technology deals with more practical themes such as extracting raw materials and manufacturing all types of artefacts, including jewellery, weapons, textiles, using se aspects of . There have been many excellent books written on both subjects for over a century.

The history of structures and structural engineering is generally covered under the broader headings of bridges and building technologies and, in the case of concrete and reinforced concrete, within the general heading of materials. Structural engineering is only ever addressed indirectly in the History and Philosophy of Science when it coincides with the history of mathematics (especially geometry and statics) or some branches of physics (especially strength of materials).

Neither of these two major disciplines addresses the history of ideas associated with structures and structural engineering, in particular, the ideas and knowledge associated with designing structures.

Dr Addis will outline his ideas on the history and philosophy (especially the epistemology) of structural engineering and the nature of design as an activity whose role in engineering is analogous to scientific method in the history and philosophy of science.

This talk is part of the Engineering Department Structures Research Seminars series.

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