The Ethics of Ethics and the Ethics of Architecture

Format: Papers, RSD5, Topic: Architecture & Planning

Ben Sweeting

In designing architecture we put forward ways in which to live, enabling particular patterns of living while limiting other possibilities. In this sense architecture has a normative function and can be compared to the way that ethical theories and moral codes purport to guide us on how to live. Given this, I suggest that ethical reflection about how we design—and in particular about how we constitute the relationship between designers and those they design for—can be used to help formulate ethical questions regarding how we speak and reason about ethics itself. Recognising Heinz von Foerster’s criticisms of moral codes as an instance of this, I use the example of designing architecture to challenge and extend von Foerster’s position, suggesting the recursive application of ethics to its own discourse.

Citation Data

Author(s): Ben Sweeting
Title: The Ethics of Ethics and the Ethics of Architecture
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Article No.:
Symposium Dates:
First published: 20 September 2016
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Copyright Information

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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Author(s). (20##). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD##. Article ##.

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