Design + Ethics: How is it more than the sum of its parts?

Deger Ozkaramanli - Leerkes*, Michael H. Nagenborg, Delfina Fantini van Ditmar, Sanna Lehtinen, Christine Schwobel-Patel, Laura Ferrarello

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademic

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The discussion of ethics in design has so far relied on theories and approaches from other disciplines. We argue that design can benefit from an explicit discussion on the ethics of its methods and practices that arises from within the discipline. This Conversation aimed at stimulating this discussion. Around 25 people attended in person, in addition to the online participants. We asked our audience about the main approaches they use for ethical inquiry and discussed the opportunities and challenges of applying these. We found out that ethics may best be framed as an invitation to care, without reducing it to a checklist, toolkit or an afterthought that can be added onto the design process. Although the situated nature of ethical issues calls for a plurality of approaches, we foresee boundaries to pluralism that acknowledge historical legacies of violence. Hence, we see a role for design to willingly engage with problematizing (vs. problem-solving) when addressing societal issues, with a view towards structural injustices.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDRS2022: Bilbao
EditorsD. Lockton, S. Lenzi, P. Hekkert, A. Oak, J. Sádaba, P. Lloyd
PublisherDesign Research Society
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2022

Publication series

NameDRS Biennial Conference Series
PublisherDesign Research Society


  • design ethics
  • interdisciplinary research
  • practice-based research
  • design education


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