Wybo Houkes

Wybo Houkes
Eindhoven University of Technology | TUE · Department of Industrial Engineering and Innovation Sciences

PhD

About

74
Publications
19,491
Reads
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1,127
Citations
Citations since 2017
13 Research Items
465 Citations
2017201820192020202120222023020406080100
2017201820192020202120222023020406080100
2017201820192020202120222023020406080100
2017201820192020202120222023020406080100
Additional affiliations
December 2001 - present
Eindhoven University of Technology
Position
  • Professor
December 2001 - present
Eindhoven University of Technology
Position
  • Professor
September 2000 - August 2004
Delft University of Technology
Position
  • PostDoc Position

Publications

Publications (74)
Article
Full-text available
Michael Weisberg has argued that robustness analysis is useful in evaluating both scientific models and their implications and that robustness analysis comes in three types that share their form and aim. We argue for three cautionary claims regarding Weisberg’s reconstruction: (1) robustness analysis may be of limited or no value in evaluating mode...
Chapter
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A popular strategy for studying technological knowledge and arguing for epistemic emancipation is to contrast science and technology-more specifically: to look at differences between natural and engineering science. The latter is certainly not equivalent to technology. First thing to note is that most authors who develop this strategy also share a...
Preprint
Full-text available
Cultural evolution theory has long been inspired by evolutionary biology. Conceptual analogies between biological and cultural evolution have led to the adoption of a range of formal theoretical approaches from population dynamics and genetics. However, this has resulted in a research programme with a strong focus on cultural transmission. Here, we...
Article
Digital-technology usage in dynamic and complex work practices is a core phenomenon in innovation research. There are, however, few detailed analyses of how people organize the use of digital tools in their work practices. We aim to offer more insight into how individual actors use digital technology, how these actors organize its use in collective...
Article
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The consensus among cultural evolutionists seems to be that human cultural evolution is cumulative, which is commonly understood in the specific sense that cultural traits, especially technological traits, increase in complexity over generations. Here we argue that there is insufficient credible evidence in favor of or against this technological co...
Article
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This study investigates PhD candidates’ (N = 391) perceptions about their research environment at a Dutch university in terms of the research climate, (un)ethical supervisory practices, and questionable research practices. We assessed whether their perceptions are related to career considerations. We gathered quantitative self-report estimations of...
Preprint
Full-text available
PhD candidates’ attrition rates and reports of better working conditions outside academia are raising concerns about the potential impact of unhealthy research environments. To study this impact, we investigated PhD candidates’ (N = 391) perceptions about their research environment at a Dutch university in terms of the research climate, (un)ethical...
Chapter
This essay tackles the question: what are technical artefacts such as the iPhone X or Tesla Model Y? It has a meta-ontological and an ontological part: I argue for a practice-based variant of an ‘easy’ ontology of technical artefacts, and present such an ontology that is based in patent-law practice.
Chapter
Digital images raise ethical issues that have so far received only little attention. The discrete pixels of digital images can be freely combined. Compared to the dissemination of analog images the net enables dis-proportionately greater control over how digital images are to be distributed. As of today, the consequences for contemporary visual com...
Article
Full-text available
Cultural evolution theory has long been inspired by evolutionary biology. Conceptual analogies between biological and cultural evolution have led to the adoption of a range of formal theoretical approaches from population dynamics and genetics. However, this has resulted in a research programme with a strong focus on cultural transmission. Here, we...
Article
Full-text available
About three decades ago, the late Ronald Giere introduced a new framework for teaching scientific reasoning to science students. Giere’s framework presents a model-based alternative to the traditional statement approach—in which scientific inferences are reconstructed as explicit arguments, composed of (single-sentence) premises and a conclusion. S...
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It has been claimed that a unique feature of human culture is that it accumulates beneficial modifications over time. On the basis of a couple of methodological considerations, we here argue that, perhaps surprisingly, there is insufficient evidence for a proper test of this claim. And we indicate what further research would be needed to firmly est...
Article
We argue that Osirak's and Reynaud's technological-reasoning hypothesis raises conceptual and methodological challenges. Interrelations between technical potential and expertise leave it unclear exactly what the technical-reasoning hypothesis encompasses. We submit that it is compatible with a range of hypotheses that are difficult to differentiate...
Article
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In this paper, it is examined to what extent functions, as analysed in the philosophy of technical artefacts, can serve a role in explaining the aesthetic appreciation of these objects. The main conclusion is that, despite first appearances, so-called ‘Functional Beauty’ accounts cannot derive strength from analyses of artefact functions; on the co...
Article
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The notion of (computational) template has recently been discussed in relation to cross-disciplinary transfer of modeling efforts and in relation to the representational content of models. We further develop and disambiguate the notion of template and find that, suitably developed, it is useful in distinguishing and analyzing different types of tra...
Chapter
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In this paper, I present a model of application-oriented science, to supplement existing work in science and technology studies on the re-orientation of scientific research. On this “branch-formation” model, research efforts may be guided by non-epistemic values without compromising their epistemic value: they may involve completion of mechanism re...
Chapter
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Debates in the metaphysics of artefacts typically start from the observation that technical artefacts result from intentional production and then focus immediately on the issue whether this ‘mind-dependence’ undermines claims that artefacts exist or come in natural or real kinds. We aim to add sophistication to debates on the latter issue by approa...
Article
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Formal models have linked prehistoric and historical instances of technological change (e.g., the Upper Paleolithic transition, cultural loss in Holocene Tasmania, scientific progress since the late nineteenth century) to demographic change. According to these models, cumulation of technological complexity is inhibited by decreasing- while favoured...
Article
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Evolutionary anthropologists and archaeologists have been considerably successful in modelling the cumulative evolution of culture, of technological skills and knowledge in particular. Recently, one of these models has been introduced in the philosophy of science by De Cruz and De Smedt (Philos Stud 157:411–429, 2012), in an attempt to demonstrate...
Chapter
In this contribution, we explore whether the ICE-theory of technical functions can be used to formulate a unified account of functional discourse in biology and other functional domains. We discern three routes for arriving at a unified account: literally applying the ICE-theory to the other functional domains, taking non-technical functions as ‘as...
Chapter
We argue that the use-plan analysis of artefact use and design can be combined with the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT), a well-tested model for predicting the adoption of information systems in organizational contexts. After presenting the outlines of the use-plan analysis and UTAUT, we show how the basic concepts of the...
Chapter
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It is not uncommon to describe the efforts of engineers, the results of these efforts and the specific knowledge employed in normative terms. Take, for instance, ‘The engineer, and more generally the designer, is concerned with how things ought to be – how they ought to be in order to attain goals, and to function’ (Simon 1981: 7).
Article
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In this paper we use our work in the philosophy of technology to formulate a pluralist view on artefact categories and categorisation principles, as studied in cognitive science. We argue, on the basis of classifications derived by philosophical reconstruction, that artefacts can be clustered in more than one way, and that each clustering may be ta...
Article
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A deflationary perspective on theories of cultural evolution, in particular dual-inheritance theory, has recently been proposed by Lewens. On this 'pop-culture' analysis, dual-inheritance theorists apply population thinking to cultural phenomena, without claiming that cultural items evolve by natural selection. This paper argues against this pop-cu...
Article
This paper systematically compares two frameworks for analysing technical artefacts: the Dual-Nature approach, exemplified by the contributions to Kroes and Meijers (2006), and the collectivist approach advocated by Schyfter (2009), following Kusch (1999). After describing the main tenets of both approaches, we show that there is significant overla...
Article
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The human enhancement debate typically centres on moral issues regarding changes in human nature, not on the means for these changes. We argue that one cannot grasp what is morally salient about human enhancement without understanding how technologies affect human action and practical reasoning. We present a minimalist conception of human agents as...
Book
In A Philosophy of Technology: From Technical Artefacts to Sociotechnical Systems, technology is analysed from a series of different perspectives. The analysis starts by focussing on the most tangible products of technology, called technical artefacts, and then builds step-wise towards considering those artefacts within their context of use, and ul...
Chapter
The subject of this chapter is the interaction between technology and society but more particularly, between technological development and the context of such development. There are different views about the way in which technology and society influence each other, varying from the idea that technology develops independently of the social context t...
Chapter
In Chapter 1, we argued that technical artefacts such as aeroplanes, electric drills, computers and ballpoint pens differ from both physical objects and social objects in that they embrace something of both. Technical artefacts are tangible objects with physical properties, but they are also objects with a function, which they have in virtue of the...
Chapter
In this chapter, we return to engineering practice; to discover what forms of knowledge are relevant in that area. The idea underscoring much philosophical work on this subject is that technology is nothing other than applied science. We shall demonstrate that this idea is wrong: engineers do more than simply use scientific or applied scientific kn...
Chapter
In Chapter 5, we have seen that technical artefacts are often part of larger sociotechnical systems and that those systems also contribute to determining the consequences of the use of such artefacts. We ended Chapter 6 with the conclusion that technology can result in unintended consequences. These two observations lead one to wonder to what exten...
Chapter
We start in this chapter by analysing the nature of technical artefacts. What sorts of objects are they? What are the typical characteristics of technical artefacts? Given that technical artefacts play such a predominant role in our modern world, these are all important questions. The way in which people interact with one another and relate to natu...
Chapter
In the previous chapters, we discussed what technical artefacts are and how we can best understand the technical design process. We learned that technology is directed at changing the world and that engineers contribute to that by designing artefacts. The changes brought about by technology can be both for the good and for the bad. In this chapter,...
Chapter
In Chapter 1, a technical artefact was defined as a physical object designed and made by humans with a technical function and a use plan. In this chapter, we focus on the question of what technical designing actually is There is consensus amongst engineers about two main features: the core activity of technical designing is describing a physical ob...
Article
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In this book we have presented our philosophy of artefacts. We started from an action-theoretical perspective, clarifying the intuitive connection between artefacts as useful objects and the goals, beliefs and actions of agents. After analysing artefact using and designing, we focussed on the characteristic of artefacts that has drawn most philosop...
Article
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In the previous chapter we analysed the using and designing of artefacts in terms of the goals, beliefs and actions of the agents involved. In this chapter we switch to a perspective on artefact teleology that is more common in philosophy and engineering. This object-oriented perspective brings us to our central project of developing an adequate th...
Article
We start this book by presenting the action-theoretical background for our theory of technical functions. To this effect, we study two commonplace actions that involve artefacts: using and designing. We analyse both of these activities in terms of one central concept, that of use plans, i.e., ways of manipulating objects in order to realise practic...
Article
Going from desiderata to phenomena serves a dual purpose. First, it increases the phenomenological appeal of our theory. We show in the course of this chapter that the ICE-theory can account for many different aspects of malfunctioning. We do not give a full description of malfunctioning. Yet our investigations make clear how intricate such a descr...
Article
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With our use-plan approach to artefact using and designing, and with the review of existing function theories, we have collected the means to formulate a function theory that is adequate to the technical domain. This theory is constructed against the background of, specifically, our use-plan analysis of designing, and incorporates elements from the...
Article
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...
Chapter
This book is about many of the most mundane objects surrounding us. It is about the objects that we use at home, outdoors or at work; objects otherwise as diverse as tea bags, television sets, bridges and microchips. Throughout this book, we shall refer to such objects as ‘technical artefacts’. Typically, these are tangible, material objects that s...
Book
This first book-length study in the philosophy of technical artefacts and their technical functions presents a new action-theoretical account of using and designing called the ICE theory. This theory connects the material side of technical artefacts with the aims of everyday users and the tasks of engineers when designing for those everyday users....
Article
In this paper, I study the application of phylogenetic analysis in evolutionary archaeology. I show how transfer of this apparently general analytic tool is affected by salient differences in disciplinary context. One is that archaeologists, unlike many biologists, do not regard cladistics as a tool for classification, but are primarily interested...
Article
This chapter evaluates two different approaches of transferring evolutionary concepts to the explanation of technical artifacts. It argues that the “conflict image” of selected and intended functions is an oversimplification and that the boundary between the biological and technological domains is an open border rather than an iron curtain. It stat...
Article
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Abstract In this paper we examine the possibilities of combining two central intuitions about artefacts: that they are functional objects, and that they are non-natural objects. We do so in four steps. First we argue that, contrary to common opinion, functions cannot be the cornerstone of a characterisation of artefacts. Our argument suggests an al...
Article
In this paper we examine the possibilities of combining two central intuitions about artefacts: that they are functional objects, and that they are non-natural objects. We do so in four steps. First we argue that, contrary to common opinion, functions cannot be the cornerstone of a characterisation of artefacts. Our argument suggests an alternative...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this chapter, I argue for an intentionalist reconstruction of artifact design, called the “use-plan analysis.” In it, design crucially involves the construction and communication of a use plan. After presenting an outline of the use-plan analysis, I show that it can be used to accommodate four aspects of the phenomenology of artifact use and des...
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We examine to what extent an adequate ontology of technical artefacts can be based on existing general accounts of the relation between higher-order objects and their material basis. We consider two of these accounts: supervenience and constitution. We take as our starting point the thesis that artefacts have a ‘dual nature’, that is, that they are...
Article
In this paper we present an action-theoretic account of artefact using and designing and describe our ICE-theory of function ascriptions to technical artefacts. By means of this account and theory we analyse the thesis of the dual nature of technical artefacts according to which descriptions of technical artefacts draw on structural and intentional...
Article
I argue that technological functions warrant specific epistemological attention, which they have not received thus far. From a user’s perspective, knowledge about the possible functions of an artefact is not provided exclusively by beliefs about its physical characteristics; it is primarily provided by know-how related to its use. Analysing the lat...
Chapter
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Our department moved in 2000 to a new building. Two surprises awaited us there: strange light switches and coffee mugs placed ostentatiously on our desks. We welcomed the coffee mugs as presents. It was harder to figure out how to operate the light switches. They looked like screens, so people touched them. That did not work. Then a rumor spread th...
Article
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The aim of this paper is to evaluate etiological accounts of functions for the domain of technical artefacts. Etiological theories ascribe functions to items on the basis of the causal histories of those items; they apply relatively straightforwardly to the biological domain, in which neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory provides a well-developed and...
Article
In this paper, I review Quine's response to the normativity charge against naturalized epistemology. On this charge, Quine's naturalized epistemology neglects the essential normativity of the traditional theory of knowledge and hence cannot count as its successor. According to Quine, normativity is retained in naturalism as ‘the technology of truth...
Article
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In this paper, we present an action-theoretical account of use and design. Central to this account is the notion of a user plan, which leads us to distinguish a cycle of plan design from one of artefact design. We comment on the nature and scope of our account from the perspective of design methodology in general, and we show that it can be employe...
Article
Journal of the History of Philosophy 40.4 (2002) 554-555 For present-day philosophers, the division between "analytic" and "continental" philosophy is a fact of life. In this elegant little book, Michael Friedman studies its origins. In earlier essays, collected in his Reconsidering Logical Positivism (1999), Friedman argued that Carnap and other l...
Chapter
In recent years, attention for the work of Rudolf Carnap has shifted from polemical discussion to placing Carnap in his intellectual context. Thus, the central question is no longer whether Carnap contributes to solving our current problems, but whether he solved the problems of his day and age. This contextualist approach has resulted in a deeper...
Article
Journal of the History of Philosophy 38.4 (2000) 607-608 History has not been kind to Hugo Dingler. Almost half a century after his death, philosophers of science primarily know him, if at all, from brief remarks in works of Carnap and Popper. Yet anyone who bothers reading Dingler's work can only be struck by the profundity of his attempt to accou...

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