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Institut für Technikzukünfte

Kollektive Institutsleitung


Leitung Geschäftsstelle

Dr. Alexandra Hausstein

Institut für Technikzukünfte
Douglasstraße 24, 3. OG
Raum: 405
D-76133 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-42045

alexandra haussteinNpu4∂kit edu

ITAS Workshop on Philosophy of Models in Engineering Design, 27.06.17 – 28.06.17



  • Prof. Dr. Dr. Rafaela Hillerbrand, ITAS & Institute for Philosophy, KIT
  • Prof. Dr. Claudia Eckert , The Open University, visiting professor at KIT in summer 2017
The workshop is financed by the ITZ , the Institute of technological Futures at KIT.


Motivation: Engineers interact with their products and processes largely through models. Consequently model-based reasoning takes center stage in shaping our technological future. However engineers only rarely reflect about the nature of these models and how technical possibilities and actions are affected by the models’ properties and characteristics. Thereby models in engineering describe not only the product, i.e. the designed artefact, but also the generating process (via so-called process models). At the same time the models also shape and create both the artefact as well as the process. This clearly distinguishes them from scientific models that primarily aim to describe a certain target system.

The importance of modelling has been steadily increasing over the past decades with improving computer technology. However a further step change is expected in the coming decade with the increasing prominence of industry 4.0, which brings together engineering from different engineering disciplines. Big data will also play an increasing role through the introduction of sensors monitoring and directing the use of the product and connecting products together. One of the engineering approaches to this is model-based system engineering where the aim is to model and simulate product properties and behavior from the onset. However underlying questions about the nature and influence of models have rarely been asked.

Over the last decades or so, there has been a growing body of literature on models in the sciences. Much less research has been done on models on engineering design. The workshop is supposed to fill in this gap.

Focus: With this workshop we aim to bring together design scholars, engineers and philosophers who have worked on model-based reasoning. The guiding question is as to what knowledge can be derived from models in engineering? And building on that: What actions do models afford? These questions are of relevance beyond the model debates as they may shed some light on the classical question as to what distinguishes scientific from engineering practice.

Consequently relevant subquestions include, but are not limited to the following issues

  • How, if so, do results derived from models differ from more descriptive knowledge by means of normativity, functionality, and other?
  • What are the relations between these aspects?
  • What is the relation of process models to product models and thus to the designed artefact?
  • How do process models structure the knowledge-generation in engineering design?
  • What is the role of tacit knowledge in using a model and utilizing models-based result?
  • What role can or should ethical or social values play in engineering modelling?
  • What problems arise from a wrong/incomplete understanding of the role of model?
  • Given that the epistemic status of model is interpreted differently by individuals and communities, what are the substantive barrier that arise for model based system engineering?

The research question we addressed with this workshop is formulated within philosophy of engineering, but it can only be answered in an inter- and transdisciplinary fashion because it requires expertise in both, philosophy and the engineering sciences. The workshop thus invites design researchers, engineers (particularly system engineers) both from industry and academia to discuss epistemic questions together with philosophers of engineering.


Model-based reasoning takes center stage in shaping our technological future. Particularly in the fast developing field of system engineering and in what has been coined industry 4.0 models play a central role. We thus think that an enhanced understanding of what type of engineering knowledge can be created by models and how (and whether) models afford certain technological actions is thus one central question when reasoning about technological futures as done at ITZ. Thereby the focus of the workshop is on epistemic issues, but also ethical ones (via non-epistemic values in modelling) will be touched and thus the question as to what kind of technological future we want to create.

The presented research will be published an edited volume with Springer.


For more information about program, speakers and abstracts of the workshop please visit the ITAS-Website.


Das ITZ als Dachinstitut


Seit dem 01.04.2017 ist das Institut für Technikzukünfte (ITZ) als ein interdisziplinäres Institut der wissenschaftlichen Technikreflexion mit Fokus auf Technikzukünfte eingerichtet. Es vereint am KIT unter seinem Dach das Teilinstitut für Philosophie, das Teilinstitut für Geschichte und künftig auch das Teilinstitut für Soziologie. Diese sind über ihre gemeinsame Arbeit am ITZ hinaus weiterhin als eigenständige Teilinstitute in Forschung und Lehre ihrer jeweiligen Disziplinen aktiv.
Ziel der Arbeit des ITZ ist es ein fundiertes Verständnis für die Funktionsmechanismen und -bedingungen unserer modernen Gesellschaft im Zusammenhang mit moderner Technik und den Technikzukünften zu schaffen.

Die Forschungsschwerpunkte der Teilinstitute liegen in folgenden Bereichen:


Professuren und Arbeitsbereiche:

  • Naturphilosophie und Philosophische Anthropologie (Prof. Mathias Gutmann)
  • Politische Philosophie und Argumentationstheorie (Prof. Gregor Betz und Prof. Michael Schefczyk)
  • Technikphilosophie und Wissenschaftstheorie (Prof. Armin Grunwald und Prof. Rafaela Hillerbrand)


Forschungsschwerpunkte im ITZ:

  • Theorie und Hermeneutik von Wissenschaft und Technik
  • Argumentative Analyse deskriptiver und normativer Diskurse




Professuren und Arbeitsbereiche:

  • Geschichte der technisch-wissenschaftlichen Zivilisation (Prof. Marcus Popplow)
  • Technikkulturwissenschaft (Prof. Heike Weber)


Forschungsschwerpunkte im ITZ:

  • Langfristige Entwicklungslinien historischer Diskurse über Technik
  • Analyse nicht-reflektierter Dimensionen, kulturhistorischer Aspekte sowie divergenter Chronologien von Entwicklung, Einsatz und Nutzung neuer Technologien
  • Rekonstruktion historischer Optionen des Technikeinsatzes
  • Adaption von Konzepten der „Angewandten Geschichte“ auf die Reflexion von Technikzukünften



Professuren N.N.


Forschungsschwerpunkte im ITZ:

Dr. Alexandra Hausstein, Geschäftsstelle:

  • Wissenschaftssoziologische Untersuchungen zur Integration der Disziplinen und institutionelle Umsetzung von „responsible innovation“
  • Kartierung von Kontroversen und Debatten und Beleuchtung der Interessen, normativen Vorstellungen und Erwartungshorizonte von Debatten um Technikzukünfte
  • Innovationsdiskurse


Workshop – Judgement Aggregation meets Argumentation

Agenda Workshop

Interdisziplinärer Workshop „Judgement Aggregation meets Argumentation“, 2. Februar 2017 am KIT.

Manchmal lassen sich Meinungsunterschiede auch durch gute Argumente nicht auflösen. Wie kann man dann trotzdem zu einer gemeinsamen Entscheidung gelangen? Und welche Rolle können Argumente dabei spielen? Diesen Fragen gehen Ökonomen, Informatiker und Philosophen auf dem Workshop nach.


Zur Workshop Agenda