Philosophy and Design

pp 51-59

The Designer Fallacy and Technological Imagination

  • Don IhdeAffiliated withStony Brook University

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Most literary critics have abandoned the notion that the meaning of a text lies in the intention of the author and have called this the “intentional fallacy.” I hold that there is a parallel found in many interpretations of technology design and call it the “designer fallacy.” This chapter, through examining a wide series of historical technology designs, deconstructs the utility of a simple designer-plastic material-ultimate use model and suggests that one must take into account unintended uses and consequences, the constraints and potentials of materiality, and cultural contexts, which often are complex and multistable. I outline a complex, interactive account of design interpretation.