Thursday, 14 November 2013


Focusing on what it takes to be an ethical creative.

First Things First Manifesto (1964)

  • Creatives are wasting their talents on trivial commodities.
  • A call for designers to do more with their talent
  • A celebration and exploitation on talent in a consumerist society
  • Unethical to waste talent
  • A hope for designer to use their talents in a more socially productive way

First Things First Manifesto (2000)

  • Adbusters: abolition of the consumer system, middle class
  • Re-darft of the first things first manifesto
  • Critical and venomous
  • Advertising takes a lot of stick, wanting to smash and blame the advertising system
  • Design is ultimately about getting a job and being paid
  • Indoctrinated to buy and design things that are not important
  • The perpetuation of meaningless consumerism
  • Judgemental
  • If you work to market or advertise companies, who make any sort of consuming products you a unethical
'We, the undersigned, are graphic designers, art directors and visual communicators who have been raised in a world in which the techniques and apparatus of advertising have persistently been presented to us as the most lucrative, effective and desirable use of our talents. Many design teachers and mentors promote this belief; the market rewards it; a tide of books and publications reinforces it.'

Culture Jamming / Meme Warfare

Visual communication through anti capitalism politics

Designers like Ken Garland, Kalle Lasn, Rick Poyner can say you can't be ethical if you are not anti capitalist  which is seen as unfair because theses designers are well off and don't have to worry about their income. As young designers we have to have the opportunity to get on our feet.

Unethical > the system that allows things such as sweat shops to happen. 

In 1964, 22 visual communicators signed the original call for our skills to be put to worthwhile use. With the explosive growth of global commercial culture, their message has only grown more urgent. Today, we renew their manifesto in expectation that no more decades will pass before it is taken to heart.

Easy to have ethics and look down peoples noses when you are financially comfortable. sometimes you don't have the luxury of who you work for and who you don't.

Victor Papanek (1971)

'Most things are designed not for the needs of the people but for the needs of manufacturers to sell to people' (1983:46)
Behind this whole book he made the same argument as the first things first manifesto. A cry for ethics.

Papanek Beer Can Automobile Can Bumper (1971) 

He drove this bumper into a centre building, to cause a stir about the safety of bumper cars. People ignore design solutions because of profit.

The Design Problem

Saying there are more urgent things that need solving in the world.

How Do We Determine What Is Good?

Ethical theories

Subjective Relativism
  • There are no unversal morals norms of right and worn
  • All persons decide right and wrong for themselves
Cultural Relativism
  • The ethical theory that what's right or wronf depends on place and/ or time. 
Divine Command Theory
  • Good actions are aligned with the will of God
  • Bad actions are contrary to the will of God
  • The holy book helps make the decisions
Moral Philosophers

  • Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) a German philosopher 
  • Peoples wills should be based on morals
  • Therefore it's important that our actions are based on appropriate moral rules
  • To determine when a moral rule is appropriate Kant proposed two categorical imperatives.
Two formulations of the categorical imperative

1: Act only from moral rules that you can at the same time universalise.
- If you act on a moral rule that would cause problems if everyone followed it then your actions are not normal

2: Act so that you always tray both yourself and other people as ends in themselves  and never only as a means to an end.
-If you use people for your own benefit that is not moral


Principle of Unity (Great happiness Principle)
  • An action is right to the extent that is increases the total happiness of the affected parties
  • An action is wrong to the extent that it decreases the total happiness of the affected parties
  • Happiness ,ay have many definitions such as: advantage, benefit, good, or pleasure.
Rules are based on the Principle of Utility
  • A rule is right o the extent that it increases the total happiness of the affected parties
  • The Greatest Happiness Principle is applied to moral rules
Social Contract Theory

  • Thomas Hobbes (1603 -1679) an Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712 -1778)
  • An Agreement between individuals held togther by common interest
  • Avoids society degenerating into the 'state of nature' or the 'war of all agaisnt all' (Hobbes)
  • Morality consists in the set of rules, governing how people are to treat one another, that rational people will agree to accept, for their mutual benefit"
Toolbox of Moral / Ethical Theories

Whether presented with problems that are easy or difficult to solve, the four workable ethical theories, 
–Act Utilitarianism 
–Rule Utilitarianism 
–Social Contract Theory 

Criteria for a workable Ethical Theory?

Social Tithe

The more stuff that can be done to change the world.
A tithe is something that is given away for free, e.g a land owner gives away 10% of his corn to the the poor.
Designers should do this! 
Do what ever you want but dedicate 10% of your time to ethical causes.
Productive way of changing the world

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