Responsible Design by Philosophical Tools in Parallel Trajectory: Practicing the Practical Turn

Wouter Eggink, Steven Dorrestijn

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Philosophy of Technology has produced a substantive amount of theories and reflections about the impacts of technology and innovations on our daily lives and social behaviours. Combining this conceptual toolkit with design, with its capability of actually changing things, promises a powerful approach to developing critical future-making practices.
In this paper we explore some opportunities of the approach of the Practical Turn for Responsible Design, based on the experiences with a one-week Industrial Design Workshop at the University of Antwerp. Here, 18 students executed a conceptual design project for the improvement of public space. During the process they experienced and applied tools and theories from respectively Utopian Technology, the Product Impact Tool, and Open Script Design. The results ranged from an open electric bike-sharing system to a bus-stop that fosters ethical discussion. Apart from having interesting design results, the project shows how design can make tangible the inherent dilemmas and conflicts in designing for public space, where collective responsibilities and individual concerns often collide. This makes a strong case for the Practical Turn, that shows an inherent reciprocal effect; the materialization and visualization of ethical and social issues through design -based on the ethical reflection from the philosophical tools and theories- in its turn explicates the ethical reflection.
The accompaniment of design projects with philosophical tools for reflection has shown to be usable for enhancing responsibility in design. We therefore propose the concept of a parallel trajectory, with carefully timed philosophical exercises.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2020
Event2nd Philosophy of Human Technology Relations Conference, PHTR 2020 - Online Conference, Enschede, Netherlands
Duration: 5 Nov 20207 Nov 2020
Conference number: 2


Conference2nd Philosophy of Human Technology Relations Conference, PHTR 2020
Abbreviated titlePHTR 2020
Internet address


  • Ethics and technology
  • Practical Turn
  • Design Research
  • Open Script Design
  • Responsible design
  • Parallel Trajectory
  • Product Impact Tool


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