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In this website I make available ideas from investigations where I sought answers to the question ‘What are the principles used by those who are successful problem solvers?’ .  I hope that those who need such information will find inspiration from it.

The use of reason in assessing solutions to problems is the key issue in controlling the risk of unsatisfactory outcomes. I do not suggest that it is possible to solve problems solely on the basis of logical arguments. Intuition, imagination and judgement are also needed. I do suggest that, when making assessments, reason should be used to the limits of its potential in the context – hence the title of the website ‘Submit to reason’.

For a summary of my findings about complex problem solving see About. For more detailed information see Papers and Blog posts

My interests in probelm solving arose when, as a professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, I was involved in research work on the use of AI in structural design. The principes that we elicited from designers were used both in the development of software and in student design project work. It became evident that what we had learned about the principles used in design, has wide application in problem solving. While I no longer do research work using AI, I actively investigate strategies for complex problem solving.

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Strategic Ignorance and The Wealth of Nations

In her book, The Unknowers, How strategic ignorance rules the world (2019), Linsey McGoey analyses arguments that Adam Smith made in his seminal eighteenth century economic treatise The Wealth of Nations. Free-market economists use Smith’s work to justify their economic philosophies but McGoey explains that The Wealth of Nations was made up of five ‘books’…

Learning from success, learning from failure

A main idea that I promote on this website is that identifying and adopting guiding principles is a key issue in successful problem solving. We can learn about such principles by observing how successful projects are managed and from identifying the reasons for failures when they occur. In this post I analyse one of each…

A task force for the Covid-20 pandemic response

No, that is not an error in the title.  I wish to reflect on how we should react when the next pandemic arrives. The Government would appoint an appropriately led task force of eclectically chosen experts to be responsible for drawing up the plan of action and for coordinating its implementation.  This is different from…