Vol 6, No 4 (2015) > Editorials >

Designing and Producing Better Products, Projects and Services

Mohammed Ali Berawi


Abstract: Many studies have focused
on modeling functions in the field of technological design as an important step
toward product creation and innovation. Philosophical literature divides the
concept of function into two main understandings: teleological theory and
etiological theory. The teleological theory of function can explain the purpose
and requisite actions of an object by citing expectations of collective
intentionality, such as, our collective agreement that a hammer should be used
to hit nails. The starting point is to differentiate the purpose of the
artefact from the way it is used by articulating the designer’s intentionality.
Thus, we can explain why and when an artefact (such as a chair) can be used in
relation to its function; for example, whether a chair can be used to support
the weight of a seated person, to hold open a door, as a step-stool, and so on.
The etiological theory of function explains the prevalence and/or persistence
of object types by citing the current presence of an object through causal
contributions to its adaptation. Although unprotected steel can be used to form
a roof in a wet climate, it will rust because of the etiological functions
related to the causal account of oxidation. Thus, an etiological function of a
technological artefact explains the causal relationship of why such an artefact
exists by providing a historical account of its adapted/evolved form. Thus, we
can see that the designers’ intentionality is constrained within etiological

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