How Ethical is Ethical?

Image source: LifeStraw

Even though I haven’t posted much recently (sorry for that, especially when I got some nice links, Thanks Noah. Frontstudio.) I have been thinking a lot about the ethics of design. One post from Rob Walker’s murketing blog that has kept with me, which I’m finally able to post. Walker mentions luggage companies trying to design an airport security friendly laptop bag. Anyone who travels with a laptop knows the pain of having to take out the computer to be x-rayed. What was most interesting was an aside he made:

“(Okay, okay, it’s not the LifeStraw — it’s an annoyance problem instead of a mortal one, but still.)”

The LifeStraw is a hand held, point-of-use water filter, which is an amazing product. So, yes, Walker is correct is asserting that a laptop which makes it easier to get through airport security may not save lives (but it does help everyone in line.)

The question then is, how ethical is ethical? In defining an ethic of design does a product or service have to be life saving for it to be ethical? Be made of ompletely sustainable materials? Have a zero carbon footprint?

The answer, I believe, is no. However, what this implies is that there is a spectrum of ethics in a design. The big question is what are the metrics of that spectrum of the ethical.

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4 Responses to How Ethical is Ethical?

  1. Frank says:

    Query–is the aside designed to obliquely denigrate the luggage-maker–or to anticipate and deflect denigration from of the luggage from the overly pious?

  2. Ray says:

    My guess is that his aside was the latter.

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