Pragmatism and Design Thinking
Peter Dalsgaard


This article examines the philosophical position of pragmatism as a conceptual scaffold for design thinking. A number of existing contributions to design have drawn upon concepts from pragmatism. The article continues this line of thought by a wider examination of how central concepts in design thinking resonate with the pragmatist philosophy of John Dewey. The argument put forward here is that there is a large degree of convergence between the pragmatist perspective and design thinking. Pragmatism offers well-developed and coherent articulations of concerns that are central to design thinking and the pragmatist perspective can be of value on both a theoretical and practical level. On a theoretical level, it can inform and inspire the development of the discourse on design. On a practical level, pragmatist concepts can be operationalized to inform and guide concrete design projects and help us understand and orchestrate the design process.

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