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Tuesday, July 26 • 2:30pm - 3:00pm
A Good Approach to Wicked Problems

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2774 One of the reasons that systems thinking has developed over the years is to address problems that seemed to be unresolvable; the social equivalent of a Gordian knot. Since the term was first used in 1973 by Rittel and Weber (1973) these difficult problems have become known as “Wicked Problems”. A Wicked Problem is usually a social or cultural problem that is difficult or impossible to solve. Wicked problems become “wicked” not because they are innately evil , but due to the number of stakeholders, resources, lack of knowledge upon the subject, cost involved, the great possibility of unanticipated results and other factors that multiply the complexity of the issue to be addressed.. One of the defining characteristics of a Wicked Problem is that “solutions to wicked problems are not true or false, but good or bad. Ordinary problems have solutions that can be objectively evaluated as right or wrong. Choosing a solution to a wicked problem is largely a matter of judgment” Questions of what is the good and what is the bad are informed by systems of ethics. There are numerous ethical approaches to the ultimate question “what is to be done”? This paper argues that the version of American Pragmatism that has come to be known at Neo‐Pragmatism is a good choice to approach Wicked Problems. Neo‐ Pragmatism is uniquely suited to finding a “good” approach to a Wicked Problem due to the social nature of Wicked Problems. Since a Wicked Problem is fundamentally social it consists of constantly changing and shifting parts. If there is any stability in a Wicked Problem it is the stability of constant change. Neo‐ Pragmatism is founded on the understanding that all elements of human society are fundamentally contingent; that is to say that again the only constant is change. Neo‐ pragmatism is simply the only ethical structure that can readily adapt to the constant flux that is a Wicked Problem.

Tuesday July 26, 2016 2:30pm - 3:00pm
ECCR 265

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