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Wicked Problems added to the idea list

This is the 4th idea I’ve added to the list of Ideas I’m Mulling. So far, there’s the codex vitae (book of beliefs), prisoner’s dilemma, and the capabilities approach. It’s interesting to create this list in slow motion, because it’s inevitable that creating a list of ideas that seem to stick around in my head is going to reveal a number of weird connections and associations along the way. I don’t know what those connections are yet, but when I added this one to the list today I started to get a hunch that there are definitely connections to be made. It’s kind of like trying to interpret a waking dream, except instead of weird symbols that are recombined to process vague themes of our waking lives, these are weird ideas that bubble up in the form of interests that all point to some vague purpose or meaning or puzzle that exists in my subconscious mind.

Beliefs, game theory about cooperation and competition, moral philosophy that seeks to solve for social justice, and problems that resist easy solutions and heroes. Hmmmmm…

I think the thing they seem to have in common so far is that they are all on the periphery of what I feel I can understand and internalize and articulate to myself in a sensible way. I have hunches about my beliefs, but can never quite capture them. I have hunches about cooperation and why it exists, but I can’t quite articulate it. I have hunches about moral philosophy but so far haven’t been able to really claim one to be my own. And I have hunches about why so many problems resist being articulated, much less being addressed or eventually solved, but the language for how to describe them continues to elude me.

So it makes sense that these ideas persist in my areas of interest, by virtue of not being easy for me to articulate or understand. They might hint at a clue or something… or they might just be dead ends. I guess at this stage of my interests in them there is no guarantee that any kind of clue exists within them, just that it hasn’t been entirely ruled out.

All of this is a meta point perhaps, on the topic of wicked problems, because the thing about wicked problems is that they are in many ways impossible to fully state, much less solve. The wikipedia page does a good job of summarizing this ineffable quality of wicked problems, and I have found it fruitful to mull over these characteristics and to realize just how challenging these types of problems are to look at, and talk about, and attempt to solve.

I took these characteristics and attempted to internalize and paraphrase them in my own structure, and have added them to the ideas page.

See the entry for wicked problems as it was when this article was published, and as it is now.



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Buster Benson

Buster Benson


Product at @Medium. Author of “Why Are We Yelling? The Art of Productive Disagreement”. Builder of