Inclusive design research and design’s moral foundation

Authored by: Jude Chua Soo Meng

The Routledge Companion to Design Research

Print publication date:  October  2014
Online publication date:  October  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415706070
eBook ISBN: 9781315758466
Adobe ISBN: 9781317636250


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For Herbert Simon and Nigel Cross, the science of design represents that general account of design that captures the “common creative activity that [different professionals in different design disciplines] are engaged [in], and [about which they] can begin to share their experiences of the creative, professional design process.” (Simon 1996: 137; Cross 2007: 123–124; also see Friedman 2002). Design research can detail what such a science of design entails. In this chapter, I hope to make a case for an inclusive design research agenda. Such an inclusive research agenda is open to insights from other non-design disciplines, such as moral philosophy. As I will argue below (see section headed ‘Designerly ways of knowing’), it may be tempting to interpret Nigel Cross’s recent remarks on ‘designerly ways of knowing’ as endorsing a kind of methodological exclusivism, which is wary of and steers clear of what non-design disciplines have to offer when researching and studying design. This, I argue below, would be a mistake (see section headed ‘Nigel Cross: the quest for the central case’). Instead, Cross’s own research strategy, like Simon’s, is inclusivist, and for good reasons (see section headed ‘Warrants for the central case approach’). I then explore what this implies for a theory of design, which is that ‘design’ is not merely a form of instrumental thinking but is instead an ethically robust manner of critical thinking attentive to choice-worthy ends.

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