Metaprobes, Metaphysical Workshops and Sketchy Philosophy

Enrique Encinas, Abigail C. Durrant, Robb Mitchell, Mark Blythe

Research output: Contribution to journalConference article

9 Citations (Scopus)


The intersection of philosophy and HCI is a longstanding site of interest for the field that has been attracting special attention in recent years. In this paper, we present metaphysical probes (Metaprobes) as a tool for design-led philosophical inquiry. A Metaprobe is a design artifact used to study a metaphysical idea without concealing the philosophical tools mobilized by the designers or the designerly knowledge attained after deployment. We introduce the concept of a Metaphysical Workshop. This is the set of sketchy philosophical notions that a designer mobilizes in order to research a philosophical idea through design. We then present a case study that comprises: The philosophical issue under examination, the Metaprobes designed to study it, the metaphysical workshop used and the designerly insight produced. We conclude with a discussion of the potentials and weaknesses of Metaprobes in relation to other critical and speculative research-through-design practices. We aim to provide one way to make philosophies already present in design more explicit and make other philosophical concepts relevant to HCI more accessible and workable for designers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3376453
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages14
JournalProceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2020

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