Re: Forward vs. Reverse Engineering

From: HARNAD Stevan (
Date: Sat Mar 02 1996 - 20:21:46 GMT

> From: "Petrie Susie" <>
> Date: Wed, 28 Feb 1996 11:14:58 GMT
> Is it right that forward engineering is knowing how something works
> because you built it yourself ? What about reverse engineering; is
> it because it's already been created by "God"( as it were) that we
> cannot find out how it works as easily ? Can you explain because I'm
> a bit stuck about what is what? Thanks.

That sounds right: In general, forward engineering designs and builds
devices with certain functional capacities (furnaces that heat, planes
that fly) by applying the known principles of basic sciences like
physics and chemistry. In "reverse engineering" the "devices" are
already built (people, animals), and the task is to figure out what
their design is. A design is a causal blueprint for doing what the
device can do. Cognitive psychology is a branch of reverse engineering:
It must give a causal explanation of our behavioural and mental



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