Special Issue of Philosophy and Technology: Methods in Philosophy of Design and Philosophy of Science (Dec 2013)

Theme: Methods in Philosophy of Design and Philosophy of Science
Guest Editor: Pieter Vermaas, Philosophy Department, Delft University of Technology
Website: http://www.editorialmanager.com/phte/
Deadline for submissions: 1 December 2013

Philosophy & Technology invites authors to submit contributions to its special issue Methods in Philosophy of Design and Philosophy of Science with work on design and its methods. Contributions may be about understanding and demarcating design, and on design methods, using work on scientific methods in philosophy of science. Contributions are welcomed from all traditions in philosophy and beyond, ranging from older work on the natural sciences to newer work on the experimental and social sciences, and ranging from foundational to post-phenomenological approaches. Contributions may be programmatic to philosophy of design and may be presenting new results and arguments.


Methods to do science as they emerged in the natural sciences and humanities have been an enduring topic of philosophical analysis and criticism, defining an on-going endeavour in philosophy of science. Methods to do design as developed in engineering and architecture have been considered in philosophy as well, yet in a more incidental manner, and without materialising a separate branch of philosophy of design. Still, it can be argued that a philosophy of design and its methods, in analogy to philosophy of science and its methods, is called for.

When emphasising the differences between science and design, design methods present a novel topic for philosophical analysis and reflection. Design, in contrast to science, is not aimed at knowledge that is true about or instrumental to the predictability of natural and social phenomena; design rather is aimed at creating effective and efficient solutions to realise goals. In traditional forms of design these goals are primarily practical goals, and the solutions technical artefacts and buildings. In contemporary forms of design the focus is broadened to realising also social, environmental and policy issues, and solutions may consist of courses of actions, services and institutional arrangements. And by this broadening design is evolving into a general activity, called design thinking, for arriving at innovative responses to a wide range of problems.

Design is a means to realise goals, and is increasingly seen as a novel general means to address problems. Philosophy should have an interest in it for understanding how design shapes our world and our actions, and for contrasting design to other general problem solving approaches. Design methods are spelling out how to do design and, to some extent, what design is.

When de-emphasising the differences, existing work on scientific methods may be brought to bear on philosophical analysis and reflection on design and its methods. First, science, like design, includes creating physical configurations and courses of actions to realise scientific goals, as in the experimental sciences, to test hypotheses and theories or to prove and reproduce the existence of natural and social phenomena. Methodology for doing experiments can be taken as not yet recognised instances of design methodology. Second, design, like science, is about producing phenomena, be it now artificial phenomena, yet still phenomena that are made to exist in our natural and social world. Design methods are, moreover, increasingly seen as research methods themselves for collecting knowledge about these natural and social phenomena, as, e.g., methods for research through design. Third, design methods, like scientific methods, are to be assessed and evaluated for whether and how they realise their goals. Design methods have emerged in engineering and architecture in a rather piecemeal fashion advancing different basic conceptual schemes to describe design with, and leading to an instrumental toolbox of methods to draw from in design. Individual methods are taken as validated by their track-record of successes, yet criteria to assess the effectiveness or efficiency of methods individually or in comparison are lacking. Attempts to arrive at common conceptual frameworks or general theories of design are not systematically made, or argued to be better discarded as modernisms. Still there is a call in design research to overcome this instrumental toolbox perspective on design methods, and arrive at research methodology to validate design methods in more systematic manners.

Design methods can increasingly be seen as similar to scientific methods, and it may make sense to see them as the different faces of a general methodology, by referring to the emergence of technoscience or to newer disciplines as information and computer science. Such an overall perspective provides philosophy a realm for comparative analyses of methods in the (experimental) sciences and the design disciplines, for comparative analyses of knowledge production by scientific and design methods, and for comparative analyses of the validation of scientific and design methods.

December 1st 2013 Deadline paper submission
March 1st 2014 Deadline reviews papers
Summer 2014 Deadline revised papers

Please go online at http://www.editorialmanager.com/phte/ for submitting a manuscript for review for the special issue. Log in as an author in the editorial system (you may have to register if this is the first time you log-in). Choose first Submit New Manuscript and second SI on the Philosophy of Design from the pull-down menu.

Submitted manuscripts will be reviewed by the journals procedures for original academic publications. Articles in Philosophy & Technology have typically a length of up to 10.000 words.

For any further information please contact: Pieter Vermaas: p.e.vermaas@tudelft.nl

About Fil Salustri
I'm a design methodologist and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada. Adjectives that describe me include: secular humanist, meritocrat, and long-winded. Some people call me a positivist too, as if that were a bad thing. Go figure. My real home page is http://deseng.ryerson.ca/~fil.

One Response to Special Issue of Philosophy and Technology: Methods in Philosophy of Design and Philosophy of Science (Dec 2013)

  1. Pingback: Special Issue of Philosophy and Technology: Methods in Philosophy of Design and Philosophy of Science (Dec 2013) | Papers Wanted

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