Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Technology vs. science: The cognitive fallacy


There are fundamental differences between the explanation of scientific change and the explanation of technological change. The differences arise from fundamental differences between scientific and technological knowledge and basic disanalogies between technological advance and scientific progress. Given the influence of economic markets and industrial and institutional structures on the development of technology, it is more plausible to regard technological change as a continuous and incremental process, rather than as a process of Kuhnian crises and revolutions.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Constant, E.: 1980,The Origins of the Turbojet Revolution, John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

  2. Di Nucci Pearce, M. R. and D. Pearce: 1989, ‘Economics and Technological Change: Some Conceptual and Methodological Issues’,Erkenntnis 30, 101–127.

  3. Dosi, G.: 1982, ‘Technological Paradigms and Technological Trajectories. A Suggested Interpretation of the Determinants and Directions of Technical Change’,Research Policy 11, 147–62.

  4. Dosi, G.: 1984,Technical Change and Industrial Transformation, Macmillan, London.

  5. T. S. Kuhn: 1962,The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

  6. Laudan, L.: 1977,Progress and its Problems, RKP, London.

  7. Laudan, R. (ed.): 1984,The Nature of Technological Knowledge. Are Models of Scientific Change Relevant?, D. Reidel, Dordrecht.

  8. Laudan, R.: 1984a, ‘Introduction’, inLaudan (1984).

  9. Laudan, R.: 1984b, ‘Cognitive Change in Technology and Science’, inLaudan (1984).

  10. Nelson, R. and S. Winter: 1977, ‘In Search of a Useful Theory of Innovation’,Research Policy 6, 36–76.

  11. Nelson, R. and S. Winter: 1982,An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change, Belknap, Cambridge.

  12. Niiniluoto, I.: 1984, ‘Remarks on Technological Progress’, in I. Niiniluoto (ed.),Is Science Progressive?, D. Reidel, Dordrecht.

  13. Rapp, F. (ed.): 1974,Contributions to a Philosophy of Technology, D. Reidel, Dordrecht.

  14. Rapp, F.: 1966, ‘Technology and Natural Science — A Methodological Investigation’,Technology and Culture 7; reprinted in Rapp (1974).

  15. Rosenberg, N.: 1969, ‘The Direction of Technological Change: Inducement Mechanisms and Focusing Devices’,Economic Development and Cultural Change 18, 1–24

  16. Rosenberg, N.: 1982,Inside the Black Box, Cambridge University Press, Cambrldge.

  17. Sahal, D.: 1981.Patterns of Technological Innovation, Addison-Wesley, Reading, Massachusetts.

  18. Skolimowski, H.: 1966, ‘The Structure of Thinking in Technology’,Technology and Culture 7, reprinted in Rapp (1974) pp. 371–83.

  19. Solow, R.: 1957, ‘Technical Change and the Aggregate Production Function’,Review of Economics and Statistics 39, 312–20.

  20. Wojick, D.: 1979, ‘The Structure of Technological Revolutions’, in G. Bugliarello and D. Doner (eds.),The History and Philosophy of Technology, University of Illinois Press, Urbana.

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Di Nucci Pearce, M.R., Pearce, D. Technology vs. science: The cognitive fallacy. Synthese 81, 405–419 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00869324

Download citation


  • Technological Advance
  • Economic Market
  • Technological Change
  • Fundamental Difference
  • Technological Knowledge