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date: 15 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Looking at Dewey’s and Addams’ aspirations for an ethical democracy, this chapter examines the philosophic and methodological connections between pragmatist social change and contemporary design thinking innovation. Design thinking, a method of problem-solving based in understanding the values and needs of people, has become a useful method of social change in the past decade. It is in many ways comparable to pragmatist social ethics that require empathy as a foundation for democracy and embrace experimentalism, meliorism, and fallibilism. Design thinkers talk about the importance of difference/diversity but often have limited critical reflection on the theoretical underpinnings on the role of power and privilege in the design process. A feminist pragmatist lens can address this and strengthen this experimental approach. Reading Addams’ and Dewey’s work also provides historical context for a contemporary culture of innovation while providing guidance for future social imagining.

Keywords: pragmatism, feminism, democracy, design thinking, social ethics, empathy, meliorism, fallibilism

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