well as the rather restricted vantage point from which an individual pilot can view the airspace surrounding a port-of-call—leaves little room for coordination between planes themselves. While some communication is present between pilots, most of the direction comes from the ground—from people who, though they lack the incredibly technical know-how required to fly any one of the planes they support, fulfill a vital role, both in virtue of their position as outsiders with (so to speak) a bird's eye view on the complicated and fast-paced project of moving people in and out of cities via air travel and in virtue of their specialized training as managers and optimizers. Philosophers, I suggest, play a role similar to that of air traffic controllers while scientists play the role of pilots: while it is the pilots who are directly responsible for the success or failure of the project, their job can be (and is) made significantly easier with competent support and direction from the ground. The air traffic controllers cooperate with the pilots to further a shared goal: the goal of moving people about safely. Likewise, philosophers cooperate with scientists to further a shared goal: the goal of identifying genuine projectable patterns in the world around us. If this example strikes you as over inflating the philosophers' importance—who are we to think of ourselves as controlling anything?—then consider a related case. Consider the relationship between highway transportation qua vehicles and highway transportation qua broad system of technology—a technology in the fourth and last of the senses distinguished by Kline.
Think of the system of highway system in the United States: while the vehicles—cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, and so on—are in some sense the central components of the highway system (without vehicles of some sort, there would be no system to speak of at all), they
- Kline (1985)
- I owe this example to conversation with my friend and colleague Daniel Estrada.