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Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology

Volume 23, Issue 1, 2019

Mo Abolkheir
Pages 26-50
DOI: 10.5840/techne201951194

If You Wish to Invent Then Follow the Half-Causation Method

The Half-Causation Method is a metaphysical-epistemic model for developing industrialised technological inventions. It consists of five phases of reasoning through which methodological success is achieved. The Method is named after its first phase, which consists of a methodological idealisation of the causal process, by pinpointing half of a possible causal relation while ignoring everything else. Following this, the Method prescribes how the reasoning should proceed, which ultimately constructs a complete and novel causal process. Each phase terminates with an epistemic justification which the inventor (or inventors) can share with other knowers and have them deliberated and scrutinised. As such, the entire process of developing industrialised technological inventions, including the early stages which are traditionally regarded as mysterious can be understood as a sequence of epistemic justifications. In this paper, the Half-Causation Method is presented as a detailed practical prescription for future projects which aim to develop industrialised technological inventions. Throughout the paper two case studies from the recent history of technology are used as exemplars, namely: the invention of the microwave oven and the invention of the centrifugal vacuum cleaner. First, a definition of the ‘technological invention’ is proposed. Following that, the prescription is presented as fifteen methodological instructions: three instructions that repeat at each phase. The prescription is supplemented by a set-theoretic diagram. Although this is a philosophy paper, it is spoken directly to the scientists and engineers who aim to direct part of their research towards the development of inventions.

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