What Engineers Can Do but Physicists Can't

Tradition and Discovery 39 (2):22-26 (2012)
Abstract
This is a comment on Tihamér Margitay’s “From Epistemology to Ontology,” where he criticizes Polanyi’s claim that there is a systematic correspondence between the levels of ontology and the levels of tacit knowing. Margitay contends that Polanyi supports this correspondence by appealing to a “purely ontological argument,” one which concludes that it is impossible to reduce machines to a singular, chemical-physical type, and criticizes this claim by pointing to industrial standards (machines that do reduce to singular physical-chemical type). I respond to Margitay’s claim by distinguishing two different “purely ontological arguments” in Polanyi’s thought (one relying on the multi-realizability of a machine in different physical-chemical types, the other pointing to the inability of a purely physical-chemical ontology to account for the artificial shaping and functioning of machines). With these two arguments clarified, Margitay’s criticism by appealing to industrial standards loses much of its initial force
Keywords Major Philosophers  Philosophy and Religion
Categories No categories specified
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Reprint years 2013
ISBN(s) 1057-1027
DOI 10.5840/traddisc2012/201339224
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