The Effect of a Broken Family

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PhD Thesis

1998

Social, environmental and ethical factors in engineering design theory: a post-positivist approach

Terence Love

Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering
University of Western Australia

Social, environmental and ethical factors in engineering design theory: a post-positivist approach

Terence Love B.A. (Hons) Engineering

This thesis is presented for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of The University of Western Australia.

Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering
1998

Abstract

This research investigated how social, environmental and ethical factors can be better included in theories of engineering design. The research focused on designing as an essentially human activity via consideration of the epistemological and ontological issues involved in constructing coherent design theory. The research investigations led to a clearer understanding of the roles of ontology, epistemology and methodology in design research and this clarification enabled the construction of a post-positivist approach to engineering design theory that better includes social, environmental and ethical factors alongside the existing products of scientific engineering design research. Other contributions to knowledge that emerged from the research process and which underpin the conclusions include; clarification of the terminology and basic concepts of design research and engineering design research, historical reviews of ways that the terms ‘design’ and ‘design process’ have been used in the literature of engineering design research and design research in the period 1962–1995, clarification of the role of disciplinary structure in the development of coherent design theories, the development of conceptual tools and perspectives for the epistemic, critical and meta-theoretical analysis of engineering design theory, and the development of a new meta-theoretical structure that offers the basis for unifying the theories and disciplinary structures of design research and engineering design research.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements 1

Declaration by candidate 2

Contribution to knowledge 3

1. Introduction6

1.1 Background to research6
1.2 Research problem and research questions8
1.3 Justification for the research9
1.3.1 Public concern about social, environmental and ethical matters10 1.3.2 Centrality of the research problem to engineering design and its context10 1.3.3 Attempts to address the research problem have so far not been successful.11 1.3.4 Methodology and theoretical perspective used in this research have been neglected12 1.3.5 Usefulness of potential applications of this research14 1.3.6 Summary of justification for investigating this research problem14 1.4 Methodology and Theoretical Perspective15

1.4.1 Methodology and theoretical perspective used in this research: a pragmatic constructivist meta-theoretical perspective underpinning a critical methodology17 1.4.2 Use of critical analysis in this thesis18

1.4.3 Summary of issues of methodology and theoretical perspective19 1.5 Outline of this thesis19
1.5.1 Chapter 1 - Introduction20
1.5.2 Chapter 2 - Research Issues that ensue from the literature21 1.5.3 Chapter 3 - Theoretical perspective and methodology21 1.5.4 Chapter 4 - Analysis of textual and conceptual data22 1.5.5 Chapter 5 - Conclusions and wider implications22 1.6 Terminology and definitions22

1.6.1 Review of definitions of ‘design’ and ‘design process’24 1.6.2 A...
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