Introduction to Ethics in Design

Specification:

PILLAR:

Ethics & Values

Design phase:

Value Theory

SOLO TAXONOMY LEVEL:

Relational

TIME:

Short

Summary

This teaching activity is an introductory lecture in which students gain knowledge about ethics in design. They will briefly be introduced to some ethical approaches, formal and applied ethics, and ethical implications for design. They will then use these ethical approaches to discuss a given case.

BACKGROUND

The design of technology is not neutral, and the designer is always accountable. Therefore it is vital in order to become responsible designers to understand both the various moral traditions, the formal ethical rules and regulations, as well as adopting a reflective stance to applying ethics in the design practice. Students need to understand how their designs are intentional, how they are products of inscriptions by designers, and what the implications are with regards to stakeholder moral, will and agency – both in the product and in the process.

LEARNING OUTCOMES

After the teaching activity students will be able to:

  • account for why ethics is important in design,
  • characterise several approaches to ethics (i.e. Utilitarian, Virtue-based, and Rights-based approach),
  • describe formal and applied ethics in design,
  • analyse a case using the approaches from the lecture.

PREPARATIONS

  • Go through the slides provided and adapt them to fit the purpose of the specific course and lecture. For example, by giving examples of ethics in design that showcase the broad range of working with ethics within a certain domain, product, system or service.
  • Find a relevant text on ethics in design and ask students to read it ahead of the lecture. Take inspiration from the texts mentioned in the materials. Ask students to read the selected relevant text as preparation for the lecture.

TEACHING ACTIVITY

  • Give an introductory lecture on ethics in design based on the adapted slides (see the slides provided under Materials). In these slides, students will be asked to analyse a case.

ASSESSMENT ACTIVITIES

To assess whether the intended learning outcomes were attained by the teaching activity the following assessment activities can be carried out (in class or after class).

SUGGESTED ASSESSMENT ACTIVITIES

Assess students’ learning by asking them to map their knowledge about ethics (summative assessment) focusing on mapping and describing the importance of different approaches to ethics (i.e. Utilitarian, Virtue-based, and Rights-based approach) in relation to design practice.

Assess students' learning by asking them to apply their knowledge about ethics in design on a case study (summative assessment) through identifying ethical approaches and their implications in design and imagining and analysing potential consequences of a design.

SUGGESTED ASSESSMENT CRITERIA

In the assessment activity ask students to focus on:

  • characterising approaches to ethics (i.e. Utilitarian, Virtue-based, and Rights-based approach) and what role they play,
  • describing the importance of formal and applied ethics in design,
  • accounting for how formal and applied ethics can be utilised to concrete cases or scenarios.

References

SUGGESTED READING FOR STUDENTS

Frauenberger, Christopher; Rauhala, Marjo; and Fitzpatrick, Geraldine (2016). In-Action Ethics. Interacting with Computers, 29(2), 220–236.

REFERENCES IN MATERIALS

Seven Pillars Institute for Global Finance and Ethics (SPI) (2020). Moral theories. Retrieved 2021-01-25 from https://sevenpillarsinstitute.org/ethics-101/moral-traditions

Fogg, Brian Jeffrey (2009). A behavior model for persuasive design. Persuasive '09: Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Persuasive Technology, Persuasive Technology Lab, Stanford University. https://doi.org/10.1145/1541948.1541999

Tromp, Nynke; Hekkert, Paul; and Verbeek, Peter-Paul. (2011). Design for Socially Responsible Behavior: A Classification of Influence Based on Intended User Experience. Design Issues 27(3), 3–19. http://10.1162/DESI_a_00087

Verbeek, Peter-Paul (2006). Materializing Morality: Design Ethics and Technological Mediation. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 31(3), 361–380.

Frauenberger, Christopher; Rauhala, Marjo; and Fitzpatrick, Geraldine (2016). In-Action Ethics. Interacting with Computers, 29(2), 220–236.

Spiel, Katta; Brulé, Emeline; Frauenberger Christopher; Bailly, Gilles; and Fitzpatrick, Gerladine (2018). Micro-ethics for participatory design with marginalised children. In Proceedings of the 15th Participatory Design Conference: Full Papers - Volume 1 (PDC '18). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Article 17, 1–12. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3210586.3210603

Markopoulos Panos; Read Janet C.; MacFarlane Stuart; and Höysniemi, Johanna. (2008). Evaluating Children's Interactive Products - Principles and Practices for Interaction Designers. Amsterdam: Elsesvier.

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Materials:

Suggested Assessment Activities: