Design as Civics: A citizens’ practical philosophy for making wise decisions that ‘aim’ for the ‘good life’ in our unsustainable era

Format: Papers, RSD6, Topic: Socioecological Design

Paul Emmerson and Robert Young

Design as Civics
Practical Philosophy
Sustainability as Fairness
Fairness between Citizens

Today’s and future generations suffer a lack of fairness resulting from the unsustainable systemic environmental effects of capitalism’s western consumer lifestyles. A ‘wicked problem’ that we posit, in part, design ‘supports,’ because design is an amoral practice and lacks a systemic perspective. Capitalism’s ‘free market’ metaphor wants and desires – its power – dominates design practice and pedagogical theory.

Our response challenges capitalism’s power. Our theory integrates systems thinking and design as the basis of a social practice of citizens’. Whereby citizen’s, applying their values as agonistic political conjectures, confront ‘free market’ ideology. We contend sustainability is represented as the systemic relationship frame term ‘sustainability as fairness’ (SaF), whereby fairness equals ‘fairness between citizens’ (FBC).

Our thesis foundation synthesises the Ancient Greek practice of civics with design. It forms the practical philosophy we term design-as-civics (DaC). DaC is a reflexive, systemic radical political praxis for citizens. It intrinsically possesses the explicit value-rational teleological moral goal of delivering the ‘good life’ for all through its ‘aim’ for ‘fairness between citizens.’ We report our findings here briefly from two projects upon which the full paper will expand.

Citation Data

Author(s): OCTOBER 2017
Title: Design as Civics: A citizens’ practical philosophy for making wise decisions that ‘aim’ for the ‘good life’ in our unsustainable era
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Article No.:
Symposium Dates:
First published: 12 October 2017
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Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (ISSN 2371-8404) are published annually by the Systemic Design Association, a non-profit scholarly association leading the research and practice of design for complex systems: 3803 Tønsberg, Norway (922 275 696).


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