It is generally thought that scientific understanding played the most important role in recent technological changes. Such a view tends to focus on 'success stories' such as man on the moon or the computer. According to this view, reasoning lead us to a causal understanding of the world which in turn allows the development of new technologies. Much as the preeminence of reasoning in human cognition has been called in question, the straightforward picture of the history of science and technology has been criticized by a number of historians who point to the role of other mechanisms in technological change.
Olivier Morin and I are currently working on a paper that will strive for a mutually reinforcing integration of these two strands of thought. Some consequences of the hypothesis that reasoning has an argumentative function will also be gauged in light of the role of theories in technological change.
16th century katana
Katana are an exciting object for the study of technological change (or lack thereof). The extreme perfecting of the manual skills required to reach this feast were out of touch with the rather imaginative causal explanations surrouding them.