In the Pearcey book excerpt thread, I just had an exchange of views with VS on the nature of design that led to a comment at no 67 which I think is worth headlining. As, it seems that meaning of key terms such as design is now a focal issue:
>> This caught my eye, per how one slice of a cake has in it all the key ingredients:
KF [cf 50 supra]: when the investigations tell us (a) that FSCO/I is a strong sign of design as cause
VS: You forget I think that a non intelligent directed configurations are also a form of design.
This seems a rather new-speak-esque conflation and — with all due respect — confusion of incongruous concepts.
I am very aware that evolutionary materialists often use “design” to denote functional configs, meaning how wonderful is their favourite all-answering plot device of blind chance non-foresighted variation and differential reproductive success based culling to answer to body plans.
The truth is, such has simply not passed the observed causal adequacy test, the vera causa principle; particularly where FSCO/I beyond 500 – 1,000 bits is involved. Purposeful, intelligently directed configuration issuing in contrivance, is a well known readily observed cause of FSCO/I. The only one we know after thousands of years of observation amounting to trillions of cases. A strong basis for confident induction.
But, the root issue is deeper.
On a priori evolutionary materialism, self aware consciousness and freely chosen purpose are regarded as in effect illusions, epiphenomena and folk psychology etc concepts along for the ride on the “real” world of CNS wiring and electrochemistry. As Crick et al have plainly said.
This tends to empty the real force of terms, just as Orwell’s New-Speak so powerfully satirised and exposed.
But, those of us who have had to wrestle with the hard business of significant real world technical system design (and then onwards with the issue of how one shapes future designers through pivotal strategic education of the upcoming generation of engineers) have a very different view of design. We actually have to get things to work, and get effective socio-technical systems to work through effective engineering education. (BTW, after much struggle through the minefield of such edu systems design, signs are, the design framework 10++ years on, had good bones.)
I find that the lead-in to Wiki’s article on design captures a description that rings true:
Design is the creation of a plan or convention for the construction of an object or a system (as in architectural blueprints, engineering drawings, business processes, circuit diagrams and sewing patterns). Design has different connotations in different fields (see design disciplines below). In some cases the direct construction of an object (as in pottery, engineering, management, cowboy coding and graphic design) is also considered to be design.
More formally design has been defined as follows.
(noun) a specification of an object, manifested by an agent, intended to accomplish goals, in a particular environment, using a set of primitive components, satisfying a set of requirements, subject to constraints;
(verb, transitive) to create a design, in an environment (where the designer operates)
Another definition for design is a roadmap or a strategic approach for someone to achieve a unique expectation. It defines the specifications, plans, parameters, costs, activities, processes and how and what to do within legal, political, social, environmental, safety and economic constraints in achieving that objective.
Here, a “specification” can be manifested as either a plan or a finished product, and “primitives” are the elements from which the design object is composed.
With such a broad denotation, there is no universal language or unifying institution for designers of all disciplines. This allows for many differing philosophies and approaches toward the subject (see Philosophies and studies of design, below).
The person designing is called a designer, which is also a term used for people who work professionally in one of the various design areas, usually also specifying which area is being dealt with (such as a fashion designer, concept designer or web designer). A designer’s sequence of activities is called a design process. The scientific study of design is called design science.
Designing often necessitates considering the aesthetic, functional, economic and sociopolitical dimensions of both the design object and design process. It may involve considerable research, thought, modeling, interactive adjustment, and re-design. Meanwhile, diverse kinds of objects may be designed, including clothing, graphical user interfaces, skyscrapers, corporate identities, business processes and even methods of designing.
Notice, the way “specification” is used, BTW, as there have been attempts to twist that term into rhetorical pretzels.
Design lives in the world we actually experience, of responsible, choosing, purposing, contriving agency. Intelligently directed configuration.
This is the very opposite of configurations resulting from blind walks across configuration spaces driven by blind chance and mechanical necessity.
The distinction should be respected, and if design can be shown to be a delusion then let that be so and let the word go out of usage. But, I doubt that that will ever happen as long as people have to actually design things that must work in the real world.
Trying to rewrite what design properly denotes to enfold precisely what is its antithesis, is in my considered view a gross confusion of important language that does not contribute to serious discussion.>>
I say, we have a perfect right to retain design as holding its meaning in a well-established sense. Others may think differently. I think they have a worldview level problem with the empirical reality that design exists and works in a well-understood commonly observed way. END