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An/Aesth/Ethics: the ethical potential of design

Buwert, Peter Mathew



Design is often thought of as an activity seeking to change existing situations into preferred ones (Simon, 1969). But how are designers to discern what the nature of this “preferred” change should be? What would it mean to truly design ethically? In the admirable but naïve quest to improve situations through design, it is possible to end up bypassing the
ethical altogether. Design can aesthetically provide the appearance and sensation of ethicality without the inconvenience of actually having to be ethical. Ethical discomfort is anaesthetised through the process of aestheticizing ethics: an/aestheticization. Beginning with visual communication design, but maintaining a view to the applicability and importance of the argument for broader fields of design, this paper presents the case that there is hope for
genuinely ethical design in an increasingly aestheticized
world by drawing on German philosopher of aesthetics Wolfgang Welsch’s suggestion that the root of ethics can be found to emerge from within the aesthetic itself. Design, which for so long has been a principal contributor to an/aestheticization, contains within itself - precisely due its aesthetic nature - the potential to return feeling to a society which finds itself constantly numbed to true ethical being.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Nov 12, 2015
Publication Date Nov 12, 2015
Deposit Date Dec 15, 2015
Publicly Available Date Dec 15, 2015
Journal Artifact
Print ISSN 1749-3463
Electronic ISSN 1749-3471
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 3
Issue 3
Pages 4
Keywords aesthetics, anaesthetics, blind-spot culture, graphic
design, ethics
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Dec 15, 2015


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