Bypassing ethics via design: ethical discourses in the road design process

Lloyd, Peter (2011). Bypassing ethics via design: ethical discourses in the road design process. In: 4th World Conference on Design Research (IASDR2011), 31 Oct - 4 Nov 2011, Delft, The Netherlands.



In September 1996 two people were killed shortly after the Bedford Southern Bypass in the UK was first opened to traffic. The deaths sparked discussion about the design of the bypass and this paper draws together the different discourses involving ethics and the process of design. The paper begins by noting theoretical similarities between the areas of design and ethics, it goes on to discuss the concept of ‘moral imagination’. Two discourses are then presented, the first describing the reaction to the deaths, the second looking at original documentation from the bypass design process. The paper concludes that designers, through exercising their imagination in designing, are able to resolve ethical problems without relying on the ethical discourses prevalent in both philosophy on the one hand, and the media on the other, which tend to rely on individual accounts of imagination and explicit ethical awareness. The discourse of the design process suggests a more social idea of imagination (past and present) and design judgment that, although having a strong aesthetic component to it, is able to address ethical issues.

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