Post-Normative Design Ethics

By March 4, 2024 No Comments
February – March 2024

Post-Normative Design Ethics

Adam Nocek


Prof Adam Nocek from Arizona State University, our Visiting Scholar at Design Department, offers the design PhD an optional course to offer a fresh look at Ethics in Design.

Within design research communities there is growing interest in design ethics. This seminar does not attempt to prescribe a single ethical framework for designers, nor does it limit the study of ethics to a subfield of design, but rather seeks to bring the study and practice of ethics to the center of designing in the twenty-first century. Drawing on a wide range of readings and case studies from across design and design-related fields (e.g., architecture, urbanism, philosophy, feminism, media studies), the course challenges the dominant tendency in design ethics to apply normative frameworks.

While Design is now, perhaps more than ever before, seeking to incorporate nonhuman perspectives and operate at scales that exceed the human (geological, biochemical, computational, infrastructural) in order to combat the crippling effects of interwoven planetary crises, then the anthropocentrisms underwriting dominant ethical paradigms are in desperate need of critique and reimagination. Although searching for a “post-normative” ethics is largely uncharted territory for design researchers, this seminar represents a site for unlearning and relearning what ethics could mean for design.

This work is therefore both critical and speculative and will necessarily intersect with the growing interest in the politics of design, and more specifically in design’s dual role as both cause of and remedy for various systems of political oppression. The PhD activities proposed in the seminar series are meant to be both a laboratory for experimenting with ethical propositions for design and a staging ground for what promises to become a new paradigm for design research: post-normative design ethics.

Adam Nocek Bio

Adam Nocek (https://search.asu.edu/profile/2770981) is an Associate Professor in the Philosophy of Technology and Science and Technology Studies in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering at Arizona State University. He is also the Founding Director of ASU’s Center for Philosophical Technologies. Nocek has published widely on the philosophy of media and science; speculative philosophy (especially Whitehead); design philosophy, history, and practice; and critical and spe- culative theories of computational media.