Principles of Construction

An Ontology of Design

  • Enrico Terrone
Keywords: Ontology, Metaphysics, Design, Normativity, Creativity


If ontology is the study of being, the ontology of design studies the specific being of design. I propose an ontology of design that rests on the distinction between design as an activity and the design as the outcomes of this activity. I begin with arguing that a design is a principle of construction of artifacts that belongs to the ontological category of norms. Then, I exploit this account of the designs as norms to build up an account of design as normative practice. Just as politics governs the life of people, design governs the life of artifacts. Lastly, I show that the ontological conception that I have proposed can shed some light on three important aspects of design, namely, its forms (architecture versus engineering), its ways (individual versus collective), and its values (innovative versus traditional).

Solicited Manuscript