The ethics of ethics and the ethics of architecture

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


In designing architecture we put forward ways in which to live, enabling particularpatterns of living while limiting other possibilities. In this sense architecture has anormative function and can be compared to the way that ethical theories and moralcodes purport to guide us on how to live. Given this, I suggest that ethical reflectionabout how we design—and in particular about how we constitute the relationshipbetween designers and those they design for—can be used to help formulate ethicalquestions regarding how we speak and reason about ethics itself. Recognising Heinz vonFoerster’s criticisms of moral codes as an instance of this, I use the example of designingarchitecture to challenge and extend von Foerster’s position, suggesting the recursiveapplication of ethics to its own discourse.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD5) 2016 Symposium
EditorsPeter Jones
PublisherSystemic Design Research Network
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016
EventRelating Systems Thinking and Design 2016 Symposium: Systemic Design for Social Complexity - OCAD, Toronto, Canada
Duration: 13 Oct 201615 Oct 2016

Publication series

NameProceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design Symposium
ISSN (Electronic)2371-8404


ConferenceRelating Systems Thinking and Design 2016 Symposium
Abbreviated titleRSD5
Internet address

Bibliographical note

© 2016 by the respective authors, unless stated otherwise.


  • Ethics
  • Architecture
  • Design
  • Cybernetics
  • Systemic Design


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