Three sources of perceptual knowledge

26th Mar 2010

16:30 - 18:00

Seminar Room, Ground floor, Chisholm House


This paper is a study in the epistemology of engineering. I will look at three ways in which perceptual information is carried by instruments in production logging analysis and wellbore navigation, two niche fields of petroleum engineering. By examining fieldwork results and rhetorical uses of epistemic terms in training manuals, textbooks, reports and articles I hope to demonstrate how instruments are used to extend perceptual capacities and acquire knowledge about states, events and particulars in a well. I argue,  making use of Dretske?s informational epistemology, that these three kinds of signal can be usefully classified as perceptual and explore how analysts and engineers manipulate them in order to acquire and stabilize knowledge. Since the fieldwork for this study was  conducted in various parts of Southeast Asia I will conclude with  some remarks on epistemic value and truth from a cross-cultural  perspective, building on the work of Soraj Hongladarom inter alia.

Eric Kerr is a PhD candidate in Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. His research dissertation focuses on social epistemology and philosophy of technology. He is a visiting student this semester at the University of Vienna and the University of Delft.

Please do come along to hear this very interesting talk and enjoy the discussion which will follow, and feel free to invite friends and colleagues who are not on this mailing list.