76. Engineering Turn: Coping with complex problems as engineering of science?
Science and technology are widely regarded as guarantors for increasing welfare and solving societal problems. Especially, so-called “grand challenges” (e.g. Climate change, energy transition, mobility turn) are to be solved with scientific and technological means. STS scholars so far analyzed the aligning changes as emergence of mission-oriented research, formation of transdisciplinary research practices or the transformation of science-policy interfaces. However, multifaceted changes within science itself while absorbing these complex problem situations are taking place. These are less investigated, yet.
In order to make complex systems explorable, science resorts to specific techniques: on the one hand, increasingly advanced computer technologies such as simulations and, increasingly, machine learning methods; on the other hand, strategies of engineering de novo entities such as precedentless materials, molecules or organisms in order to reduce complexity. Thus, research cultures are going to change and fundamental questions have to be addressed anew. It is not only about understanding the changes in “epistemic cultures” (Knorr Cetina), but also to understand these changes in the light of the epistemological question of how can we understand and confirm epistemic quality?
Against this background, this open panel is dedicated to the double question: Which changes of research cultures happen while addressing these forms of complexity? How can we describe these changes of epistemic quality in terms of fundamental epistemological categories (e.g. explanation, epistemic thing)? Our basic assumption is that there is a need for reshaping STS by an interdisciplinary approach combining philosophy of science as well as STS forms of investigation.
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