Objects, Practices, Experiences and Networks









From Afterthought to Precondition: re-engaging Design Ethics from Technology, Sustainability, and Responsibility  

Jeffrey Chan 

National University of Singapore


Keywords: Design; Ethics; Technology; Responsibility


Despite recognizing that ethics is integral to design, and despite awareness that design brings about risks and undesirable side and after-effects, design ethics remains critically under-developed. What is design ethics? How should one broach an area as vast as design ethics? In this article, I examine three discourses that have been commonly used to engage—and to provoke—moral reasoning, awareness, and action in design. They are namely, technology, sustainability, and responsibility. Within the defined area of each discourse, I examine a limited set of debates and issues that are relevant to design ethics today. Through this critical analysis, I raise new questions and issues for design ethics. Subsequently, I suggest how a theoretically robust design ethics ought to engage with the concepts and categories of applied ethics on the one hand, and on the other, to condition this engagement with the domain-specific interests, concerns and experiences of design. 

This paper is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence.

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Cite this paper: Chan, J. (2016). From Afterthought to Precondition: Re-engaging Design Ethics from Technology, Sustainability, and Responsibility.  Proceedings of DRS 2016, Design Research Society 50th Anniversary Conference. Brighton, UK, 27–30 June 2016.

This paper will be presented at DRS2016, find it in the conference programme

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