Candidate worldviews for design theory

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Our growing body of design theory risks being infected by more inconsistency than is justifiable by genuine disagreement among design theorists. Taking my cue from C. S. Peirce, who argued that theory inevitably rests on basic metaphysical assumptions that theorists ought to be critically aware of, I demonstrate how ‘insidious inconsistency’ may infect design theory if we ignore his admonition. As a possible remedy, I propose a method by which the philosophy of design may develop sound metaphysical foundations (‘worldviews’) for design theory – and generate philosophical insights into design at the same time. Examples are given of how the first steps of the method may be carried out and a number of candidate worldviews are outlined and briefly discussed. In its own way, each worldview answers certain fundamental questions about the nature of design. These include the ontological question of what the subject matter of design might be; and the epistemological question of how designers can rely on their predictions about the properties of a potentially novel artefact. The purpose of the paper is not to attempt any definitive answers to such questions, but rather to draw critical attention to the metaphysical (pre-empirical) and  conceptual foundations of design theory.

TidsskriftDesign Studies
Udgave nummer3
Sider (fra-til)267-303
Antal sider37
StatusUdgivet - 2008


  • designforskning
  • designteori
  • metateori
  • designfilosofi
  • videnskabsteori
  • teori og filosofi

Kunstnerisk udviklingsvirksomhed (KUV)

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