At its simplest, ethics is a system of moral principles. They affect how people make decisions and lead their lives. Ethics is concerned with what is good for individuals and society and is also described as moral philosophy.
Ethics covers the following dilemmas:
- how to live a good life
- our rights and responsibilities
- the language of right and wrong
- moral decisions - what is good and bad?
But what does it mean for design? There are so many ethical dilemmas designers see every day. For example: using a design code of ethics, should all designers have a code of ethics like doctors or lawyers? Should we create safeguards for social media like reporting comments? Should money drive all ethical design dilemmas? Should we try to make ethics a design staple rather than a trend that will fade? Is it ethical to move fast and break things just for the sake of moving fast? These are all just some pain points we see more often than we should as designers.
Ethics of product design is a fuzzy area. We are still learning that there are so many grey areas. The more we talk about ethics of product design the better informed everyone will be. So go ahead, let’s make ethics of design a part of our everyday lives. Designers and non designers will thank you. The world will be a better place because of it.