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Narrative and epistemic positioning: the case of the Dandelion pilot

Berry, Dominic J. (2021) Narrative and epistemic positioning: the case of the Dandelion pilot. In: Pirtle, Zachary, Tomblin, David and Madhavan, Guru, (eds.) Engineering and Philosophy: Reimagining Technology and Social Progress. Philosophy of Engineering and Technology. Springer, Cham, CH, 123 - 139. ISBN 9783030700980

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Identification Number: 10.1007/978-3-030-70099-7_6


This chapter introduces philosophers of engineering to a new research agenda currently permeating the history and philosophy of science, one concerned with the functions of narrative in science. The functions of narrative that I am here interested in contribute to two particular kinds of epistemic positioning. First, that of the individual researcher’s epistemic position in relation to a field of inquiry. Second, the positioning of a community of researchers gathered around and looking at newly acquired evidence, assessing its significance. In the first, the kind of inference and hypothesis making that narrative affords stimulates and orders inquiry. In the second, narrative supplies a means of reasoning from the particulars of a case to something deeper or broader. The case analysed concerns an interdisciplinary project between engineers, applied mathematicians, and biologists dedicated to understanding how dandelion seeds fly. My analysis draws on the concepts of ‘tellability’ from literary study and ‘synoptic judgment’ from the philosophy of history. Tellability is used to explore question generation in science and engineering, in particular the making of more or less ‘askable’ questions. Synoptic judgement is used to interrogate my own case, key elements of which resemble synoptic judgement without assimilating to it.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 Springer Nature Switzerland AG
Divisions: Narrative Science
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Date Deposited: 18 May 2021 07:30
Last Modified: 15 May 2022 23:00

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