according to 'Good:An introduction to ethics in graphic design', by Lucienne Roberts
Ethical (adjective)(to be... ethical)
Relating to morals
Moral (adjective)(to be... moral)
Concerned with the goodness or badness of human character or behaviour, or with the distinction between right and wrong
Good (adjective)(to be... good)
Having the right or desired qualities
Efficient, competent, reliable
Kind, morally excellent, virtuous, charitable, well-behaved, enjoyable, beneficial
Right, proper, expedient
That which is good; what is beneficial or morally right
Just, morally or socially correct
That which is morally or socially correct, just, fair treatment
(all definitions taken from The Oxford Compact English Dictionary)
'Morality is of course part of ethics, but it is not the whole of ethics. Morality is about some of our responsibilities to others, whereas ethics is about one's 'ethos', one's whole way of life. It is about what sort of person one is.' -Anthony Grayling, The Heart of Things.
This is what I myself find interesting, 'Morality is about our responsibility to others', means to me how we can all be right by one another and how we can all help one another, but it also includes what we can do for the earth and the environment, in protecting our earth we protect ourselves and life, I also feel that animals are involved within this and they apply to our 'responsibility towards others'. I am not saying that everyone has to stop eating meat, as animals do eat other animals, but I think that we can be more humane and less destructive in our everyday lives. I think that the quote above has helped me to clarify the direction of my research, and clarifies it to others.
Morality is therefore interlinked with the responsibility and our feelings of being responsible.
As well what I find interesting about the definitions of the words above is that they are all similar they seem to work and circulate with one another they are all relative, and to really understand one you need to understand them all, which to me means the topic is complex, and has areas of undefinability.
For instance; like I have previously looked into
Who defines what is good, nobody has the same views upon what is wrong and what is right ?
There is no international recognised scale of what is really good or bad, and there are always people in dispute, however I do believe events or acts that are constituted as being very bad or very good the majority agrees upon, for example the Nazis 'Final Solution' formulated in 1942, lead to the murder of 6 million Jewish citizens and many other minorities, this is probably one of the biggest atrocities in history and I would say is the top end of the 'bad' scale, and most of the world would agree.
Yet this plan was designed, it was all a result of many factors that allowed Hitler to rise to power and dictatorship. On the one hand he allowed the design of thousand of propaganda campaigns, but on the other he banned all other forms of Art and Design, closed the Bauhaus and arrested anyone who would continue to create design against him or anything he deemed as appropriate. But people still continued to create in secret, but the majority in Germany at the time would have seen these people and their work as 'bad', because they had been hypnotised by all the propaganda(bad) around them, and this to me is a case study of what is wrong and right within design and life.
Is wrong and right, good and bad influenced by larger powers around you ?
I think that the answer, for the general majority again is yes.
However back to the general ....
So what do moral factors and morality have to do with people who design and make things?
The answer is clear. The way that we design and make things affect the safety, comfort and well being of people who come into contact with our designs and who will be affected by them. So, the morality of our thinking and decision making has an impact on every aspect of our design and technology work and on the people who will use our products.
Morality: The Design Opportunity
The identification of a problem or design opportunity offers us a chance to do something about it. Our moral choices are that:
- we could do something that would be considered by others to be good for people, our environment and living things such as birds, fish and animals;
- we could do something that would be considered by others to be bad for people, our environment and living things such as birds, fish and animals, or;
- we could decide to do nothing at all.
The moral dilemma is whether to act when we know that action should be taken and whether to do what is right and good for others particularly when it is difficult or not so good for us.
Morality: The Design Specification
The design specification lists the specific things that a design should include and the specific attributes that a design should have. The morality with which the design specification is compiled helps determine the quality, safety and suitability of the design. So the specification should be compiled with the aim of creating a product that is right and good for people and the environment.
Morality: The Design
A design is a detailed plan of a product, system or environment that takes into account how the product, system or environment should be manufactured and how it should be used. A design may be judged as being a very good design because the finished product does precisely what it was intended to do, however, the way that the product is intended to be used may be judged as being morally good or bad, or right or wrong.
Take for example, the design of land mines. A land mine is intended to be hidden just below the surface of the earth and to explode when a light pressure is applied to the top of it. The fact that hidden land mines indiscriminately blow the legs off unsuspecting adults, children and animals, questions the morality of all the people involved with commissioning, designing, manufacturing, advertising, distributing, selling and using the product.
So the way that a design is intended to be used is a factor in determining whether the designer’s actions are morally good or bad, or morally right or wrong. The morality of the designer’s decision making, together with the designer’s practical skills determines how much the world will benefit from the design.
Morally, designs intended for the general public, should be inclusive, i.e. designed in a way that everyone can use the finished product, system or environment comfortably and safely. New designs for public facilities such as public telephones, public parks and public buildings are generally inclusive designs aimed at giving everyone equal access to them, around them and exit from them. However, even inclusive designs cannot cater for every conceivable need that individuals that make up “the general public” can have, so designs have to be modified, customised and redesigned to meet the specific and special needs of individuals.Ideally, a design should be a good solution to a problem or a design opportunity and should benefit humans, plants, animals or the environment, with minimal or no detrimental affects. All designs should take into account the health, safety and well being of the makers and users of the design.
The article above is more specific to design but I think that it is in conduction with my own ideas about morality within graphic design as I mentioned before. The highlighted phrase I think is the most important thing to take away, but to add to it I think that a design should also be designed in purpose to be good or encourage positive change, and awareness. It should be responsible.
In discussing ethics and design, there are at least three different levels for us to consider.
The first has to do with professional behavior in daily business interactions. The next level deals with specific professional expertise needed in such areas as accessibility, usability, consumer safety and environmental practices. This leads us to the third level, which is about overall professional values-a broader framework of moral principles and obligations in life...
Universal design and accessibility
Consumer product labeling
Ecology and sustainability
What does the word Subjective mean ?
And so from this definition I now know that my subject matter is in fact subjective, is based upon personal feelings and opinions and that there will be no concrete right or wrong, like right and wrong itself. Which means I will need to look into my topic throughly and form my own opinion based upon the evidence I find that supports what I think, but also to find opposing evidence and come to my own conclusion, which again is subject to opinion.]
The expansion of consumer culture
The increasing power of corporations
The globalization of trade
advances design as a professional craft, strategic advantage and vital cultural force. As the largest community of design advocates, we bring together practitioners, enthusiasts and patrons to amplify the voice of design and create the vision for a collective future. We define global standards and ethical practices, guide design education, inspire designers and the public, enhance professional development, and make powerful tools and resources accessible to all.'
Glaser and Kalman as advocates for social responsibility
During a “Big Think” interview with designer Milton Glaser says that the ultimate challenge for designers is to create beautiful, not just sustainable, design. Glaser believes that we respond to beauty as a species; beauty is the means by which we move towards the attentiveness that protects our species as a survival mechanism. Glaser thinks that ultimately it’s the responsibility of the graphic designer to inform and delight by creating beautiful designs. Social responsibility in graphic design has advocates in both the private sector and the public sector, in large organizations and small, and on an individual basis.
Since 1942 the Ad Council has been addressing critical social issues. Campaigns like “Rosie the Riveter,” “Smokey the Bear,” and “Crash Test Dummies” have delivered critical messages to the American public. A private, non-profit organization, the Ad Council uses volunteer talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and non-profit communities.
Graphic designers like Tibor Kalman prodded fellow designers to take responsibility for their work as designer-citizens. Throughout his career he urged designers to question the effects of their work and refuse to accept any client’s product at face value. Kalman inspired graphic designers to use their work to increase public awareness of a variety of social issues. Across the globe as well as on an individual level, graphic designers are being challenged to create work that’s socially responsible. Read about “Water for India,” an example of teaching social responsibility.