Designing Responsibility

By January 15, 2024 No Comments
08 February 2024 @ Polifactory

Designing Responsibility: on the danger of designers replacing politics with paternalism

Nolen Gertz

6.00 PM (CEST)

@ Polifactory



In this lecture we will identify a dilemma currently faced by designers and design researchers concerning the question of how best to use the influential nature of design to change peoples behavior in a way that benefits society. This dilemma exists because even though designers can create products that can exercise control over individual freedom, such controlling products are made necessary because individuals seem resistant to sacrifice their freedom for the good of society. Though various approaches have arisen to respond to this dilemmaranging from the technocratic to the democratic with libertarian paternalismsomewhere in betweenthey all share in common a paternalistic way of treating individual freedom as a barrierto be overcome in order to achieve social goals such as sustainability, crime reduction, public health, and social justice. This interdisciplinary lecture will explore ways to respond to this dilemma, and by drawing from the existential ethics of Simone de Beauvoir, will investigate what freedom is and why freedom should be recognized by designers and design researchers as not merely a value to be weighed against other values in design practices, but instead as the very basis of all moral values.

Nolen Gertz Bio

Nolen Gertz is Assistant Professor of Applied Philosophy at the University of Twente, and the Coordinator of the 4TU.Centre for Ethics and Technology‘s Taskforce on Risk, Safety, and Security. His research focuses primarily on the intersection of political philosophy, existential phenomenology, and philosophy of technology. He is the author of  The Philosophy of War and Exile (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2014), Nihilism and Technology (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2018), and Nihilism (MIT Press, 2019). His work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and on the ABC Australia website, as well as in interviews for BBC World, Al Jazeera, Austrian Public Radio, Ireland’s National Independent Radio, and France’s Philosophie Magazine.