Design and Crisis

In the face of crisis, is design the hero that we are looking for?

Peter Buwert
Mar 27, 2020 · 23 min read
Photo by luke flynt on Unsplash

The following is adapted from my chapter “Design and Emergent Ethical Crises” which appears in Laura Scherling and Andrew De Rosa’s new edited book “Ethics in Design and Communication: Critical Perspectives” just published by Bloomsbury. I’ve not got my hands on a copy yet, but it looks like a great collection and I recommend you check it out here.

Our world is a designed world, and the contemporary experience of living in our designed world is the perpetual experience of crisis. I’m not just talking about COVID-19 and the climate crisis here. All around us, crises brought about by human activity invade our everyday lives at all sorts of levels. How do we respond and what do we do in the face of challenges to ‘normality’ posed by blockchain, AI, stock market crashes, autonomous vehicles, CRISPR gene editing, synthetic biology, an artificially heated global climate and so on an so on. In this world of constant crisis, is design the tool, hero or saviour that we are looking for? This article explores some of the complexities and contradictions of the relationship between design and ethical crisis, considering that just as often as design turns up to save the day, it is caught red handed at the scene of the crime. The implications of our understanding of the link between design and crisis are significant and far-reaching for how we think about the activity of design, its operations and its effects in and on the world.

The Challenge and Opportunity of Crisis

In contemporary everyday language, the word crisis is used to refer to any significantly unstable situation or event: financial, political, environmental, humanitarian, medical, marital, personal. Crises can be characterised as “un-ness” events.¹ They are undesirable and unwanted. They typically catch us unaware and unready. They are unprecedented, unexpected and therefore often unimaginable and unforeseeable. The paradox of crisis management is that its core activities — prevention, preparation, mitigation and recovery²– are almost ruled out from the start by the nature of crisis itself.

At the heart of the crisis concept lie three core components of threat, urgency and uncertainty.³ While the specific threat of a crisis situation will typically be quite concrete, the general threat of crisis is the perception of threat towards normality itself: the threat of an unpredictable process of the disruption and uprooting of established social structures and systems (whether that be at the scale of international relations, or family life).⁴ The urgency of crises arises because of this threat posed to the larger social constructions from within which they emerge. Crises effectively hold social normalities hostage. If not dealt with, the prolonged impact of the disruption of the crisis moment threatens to bring down the whole structure. But more than anything the experience of crisis is characterised by uncertainty. Full preparation for or prevention of crises is impossible. How can we prepare for or attempt to prevent phenomena, the parameters of which are characteristically uncertain, unknown and unexpected?

For this reason, institutional crisis management processes and procedures are inadequate strategies for attempting to manage dynamic emergent crisis situations. There is no guarantee that anticipatory preparations based on lessons learned from past experiences will work today or tomorrow.⁵ Crisis management strategies can nurture reactive resilience, encouraging and developing the dynamic flexibility to respond decisively to the unknown in the moment of uncertainty. However, acting decisively in the moment of uncertainty is the one thing that is hardest to do. The challenge of crisis mitigation is that crises emerge specifically as a result of our inability to make decisions as to how to mitigate within the context of a given situation.

In crisis, we find ourselves at a crossroads with a number of paths available to us, but are either unable to clearly determine which option is the optimal choice, or are unable to take the actions necessary to set us on the path we would like to take. Crisis resolution requires the decisive, sifting,[6] judging action of choosing a path, and travelling down it to meet the unknown consequences which lie in wait. The etymology of the word crisis itself can be traced to the Proto-Indo-European root *krei-. *krei- is the foundation for various words in ancient languages referring to sieves and sifting, and leads on to the Greek krinein referring to the act of separating, distinguishing, judging. Many of our contemporary words are derived from this *krei-/krinein root: a criminal has been judged separate; to discriminate is to do so; the critic is the one who judges; discernment is the ability to distinguish; a criterion is a standard means by which we judge. In each of these derivatives, the core concept is that of recognising differences between things in order to separate them for various purposes.

The paradox of crisis is that decisive action is required specifically in situations where we lack the critical knowledge to confidently act.

The uncertain fork in the road of crisis, presents threat but also opportunity.⁶ This is a moment in which the inadequacies of an existing complex system are brought to light, and a new resolution is urgently demanded. The goal of crisis resolution should not therefore be to return to the status quo which gave rise to this crisis. To simply replace a system within which crisis arose, is to invite a repeat. The opportunity of crisis is an opportunity to question and change these problematic underlying factors. The opportunity of crisis would therefore appear to be an opportunity for design.

Artifice — Photo by Bence Balla-Schottner on Unsplash

Crisis and Artifice

Herbert Simon felt that it was only a “slight” exaggeration to declare that

The world we live in today is much more a man-made, or artificial, world than it is a natural world.⁷

While nature does persist, the transformational mediation of human activity renders our experience of even natural “law” and biology artificial. Following and going further than Simon, Clive Dilnot argues that artifice (that which humans have made) finally eclipses nature and becomes the “horizon and medium of our existence”⁸ precisely in the moment in which we come to realise both that we can (instantaneously through mutually assured nuclear destruction) and are (slowly but surely via Anthropocene era global warming) designing our own collective extinction. At this global scale we exist under constant threat of our own self-destruction. Simultaneously, at the local scale, we find ourselves subject to an unrelenting stream of designed interventions invading our personal realities. Threat, urgency and uncertainty are inherent characteristics of the encounter with these designs. Each novel design innovation threatens the current state of things, as it presents an opportunity for change. Each encounter demands an urgent response: do we embrace or reject this opportunity, and with what degree of enthusiasm? And we can never be certain what the consequences of our decisions will be.

We bring artifice into being to solve our problems, to ease our burdens, to relieve our pain.⁹ We experience crisis and attempt to mitigate and recover, hoping to bring about new conditions of existence more stable and more amenable to us than those from which the previous crisis arose. Yet all too often our attempts to employ design to mitigate, resolve and recover from crisis appear to bring new crises into being.

In nature, things simply are the way they are. Either the rain falls or it doesn’t. An acorn either grows into an oak tree, or withers attempting to do so: it cannot grow into anything else. The nature of a rock, is to remain a rock. Artifice, however, is a different story. Human-made things can always be different, because their qualities can be changed in a multitude of ways. A rock is not simply a rock. It may be a tool or a weapon. Joined with other rocks it could become a building. Cut and polished it could become a symbol of an abstract concept like marriage. In artifice, reality can be transformed. It is by pulling on this thread, that the full significance of the relationship between design and crisis begins to unravel.

All design involves transformation of one kind or another. Very often the outcome of a design process will involve physical change, some material presence or impact in the world. However, such material transformation is only a secondary effect of the primary transformation of design, which is the transformation and expansion of potentiality.

The Liberator 3d Printed gun — Photo by Vvzvlad on wikimedia

Potentiality: to be and not to be

The concept of potentiality is key to design.¹⁰ Typically, potentiality is defined in opposition to actuality. In the simplest possible terms, actuality refers to things as they are. Actuality is what is. This is what is commonly perceived as ‘reality’. Conversely, potentiality refers to the potential for things to be other than they are. Potentiality is what could be. It is the realm of possibility, capacity, imagination, and speculation. However, the relationship between potentiality and actuality is not as simple as it might first appear. For Aristotle actuality is to potentiality as

that which is awake to that which is asleep; and that which is seeing to that which has the eyes shut, but has the power of sight; and that which is differentiated out of matter to the matter; and the finished article to the raw material.¹¹

Aristotle’s insight is that potentiality goes both ways. The potential-to-not-be (impotentiality) is just as significant as the potential-to-be (potentiality). The sighted person who closes their eyes chooses to not-see while retaining their capability to see. The bricklayer on a coffee break is not currently building, but has not lost the capacity of bricklaying. The pianist is not always playing, but, when sitting at the piano possesses both potentiality in the ability to choose to play, and impotentiality in the ability to choose not-to-play.

The act of designing is the act of bringing new possibilities into being by conceiving of novel configurations of existing elements within given contexts. In this sense, the fundamental act of design is the extension of potentiality. At the same time, design constantly involves the conscious act of choosing not to bring other potentialities into actuality. When the designer chooses not-to bring a possibility into physical being it does not cease to exist. The existence of the possibility persists as potentiality within the designer’s mind. The experience of designing is the experience of encountering the possibility of some-thing both being and not being. When we design, we are constantly faced with choices to either attempt to bring this or that thing into being, or to suppress, inhibit or deny its being.

Design’s extension of potentiality is not limited to the activity of designing. Artefacts, the product of design, actively embody potentiality themselves. That which has been created, possesses the implicit capability both to be and to not be. To encounter an artefact is to encounter something which exists, but could not have existed, could have existed in quite a different form, and could yet be changed. This encounter with potentiality has a profound impact upon the individual encountering the design.

For example, in 2013, Defence Distributed designed and published digital fabrication files online for the world’s first functional 3-D printable gun “the Liberator”. Prior to this, I was aware that such an object was theoretically possible, but in terms of actualisable possibilities available to me I was simply incapable of fabricating my own plastic firearm. Now, because I am aware of the existence of these files, and I have the ability to access these files, and I have access to 3-D printing facilities, a change has been effected in me. I now possess the potential to print a gun. Before, even if I had wanted to I would not have been able to print a gun. Now, despite the fact that I really do not want to, I must make the active choice to enact my impotentiality, my ability not-to download those files from the dark corners of the web and attempt to print a gun.¹²

Here’s the key point: this experience of the encounter with potentiality — which is the fundamental experience of designing, whether it be brought about through the act of designing or through the encounter with designed artifice — is also the fundamental experience of the ethical.

Giorgio Agamben draws out the ethical implications of Artistotle’s conception of impotentiality, writing that

“the only ethical experience […] is the experience of being (one’s own) potentiality, of being (one’s own) possibility — exposing, that is, in every form one’s own amorphousness and in every act one’s own inactuality.”¹³

To be capable of our own impotentiality, to embrace our human capability both to do and not-to-do, is to be ethical.¹⁴ Conversely, Agamben maintains that the only true evil, that which negates and destroys the ethical, is the denial of our own impotentiality.¹⁵ In the absence of the ability to choose to do or not-do, we would be nothing more than automatons following predetermined programming. The ability to freely choose which of the multitude of potentialities available to us we do and do not enact, is the ultimate root of our ability to extend potentiality by designing, and to recognise and be responsive to the potentialities presented to us by designed artefacts.

Programming — Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

The Ethical

In everyday language the words ethical and moral are effectively synonymous and interchangeable. Here, however, I’ll use them in a specific way to make a clear division between two quite distinct concepts.¹⁶

The moral refers to the sphere of culturally embedded conceptions relating to the judgement of good and bad, right and wrong, and the core notion of ‘ought’. Morality is primarily concerned with the judgement of what ought to be done.

The ethical, on the other hand, is not concerned with judgement but rather with awareness and sensitivity to the possibilities available within a situation. The ethical precedes morality and is its necessary foundation. It is perhaps helpful to think of the ethical as the space within which the moral can take place. The activity of ethics is one of exploration and mapping: discovering how far the ethical space of a given situation extends, and becoming sensitive to the range of possibility available within this. To recognise the ethical dimension is to become aware that there is space in this situation in which things could have been, or could be, different than they are. In other words, it is to become aware of potentiality. Wherever potentiality exists, the ethical exists.

Only when we are able to perceive a range of alternative possibilities for how things could be, does it become possible to ask the moral question: how ought these things to be? Without the ethical, morality simply cannot take place. Using these words in the sense set out here, to say that something is unethical is not the same as to make the value judgement that this thing is morally bad. Rather, it is to say that there is no potentiality, no alternative possibility, here which could be judged to be morally better or worse. Something can be found to be unethical if it could not be otherwise than it is. In such a scenario there is no room to criticise, judge or imagine it being otherwise. In this sense, while nature may be unethical, artifice certainly is not.

When design brings artifice into being, it extends potentiality in multiple directions. This extension of potentiality simultaneously creates new ethical space — new possibilities to be explored and ultimately judged in the realm of morality. The problem is, that as morality is culturally constructed based on collective prior experience, newly emergent potentialities always exceed the boundaries of established moral frameworks. Precisely because they are new, we don’t know where these possibilities might lead us. We find ourselves in uncharted territory.

To encounter the ethical in the absence of the safety net of morality, is to find oneself exposed to the raw experience of sensitivity to a range of possible options, with no guiding principle to tell us what we ought to do. This experience of the moment in which morality fails us, is the experience of ethical crisis.

Accident — Photo by Nick Agus Arya on Unsplash

Design and Ethical Crisis

What do we do when faced with the uncertainty, threat and urgency of emergent ethical crisis? We may attempt to turn to our established moral frameworks, rules or codes to help us, but we will soon find that morality is almost completely unequipped to deal with ethical novelty. Philosopher John D Caputo describes the situation using the metaphor of an accident:

An accident is something that happens to us beyond our control and outside the horizon of foreseeability. Our theories and principles, whose whole aim and purpose is to prepare us for and foresee what is coming, were still in bed at this early hour of the day. […] as soon as something new or different happens ethical theory [morality] is struck dumb, the crowd gathers around the scene, and everyone starts buzzing, until finally it is agreed that we should all have seen this coming.¹⁷

The conditions of emergent ethical crisis are created each and every time design takes place and morality can only play catch-up.

More often than not instances of design represent only incremental alterations of existing artifice;¹⁸ minor extensions of potentiality which can be assimilated into existing moral frameworks. Our attention is not always sensitively attuned towards noticing crises emerging through the extension of potentiality. Too often we perceive the crisis only when it is too late, after the ‘accident’ (figurative or literal) has already occurred. One small step pushes us over the edge, exposing a complex mess of cumulative crisis. When sub-standard material specification allows fire to spread quickly through an entire tower block killing dozens of residents, systemic inequalities deeply designed into society are exposed. When a single poorly laid our ballot card causes voter error which swings an election, the flaws in democratic electoral systems are laid bare. When digital social networks ostensibly designed to bring us closer together so easily divide, polarise, manipulate and exploit, our naïve assumptions about the stability and maturity of the societies we have constructed are brought into question. When an entire city runs out of water, we are faced with the reality that we cannot continue ignoring the effects of climate change and population growth and hoping that our lives will continue in the same way they always have. In such moments the cumulative weight of all design’s seemingly insignificant incremental extensions of potentiality reach critical mass and we find ourselves unavoidably faced with the threat, urgency and uncertainty of designed crisis. From the smallest steps to these cumulative boil-over moments, design causes crisis wherever it goes whenever it extends potentiality.

Where does this leave us? How should we respond to design’s role in creating and sustaining the constant state of crisis of our artificial world? Two possible approaches to the ‘management’ of this world-wide design crisis will be discussed here. These are not mutually exclusive, but are presented to illustrate some significant implications to be considered in the way we think about the relationship between design and crisis. The first approach is the attempt to regulate and control design through application of moral frameworks. This moral approach foregrounds the question of what design ought to do. The second approach foregrounds the ethicality of design, asking first what design can do in light of the recognition that when design extends potentiality this opens up possibility and opportunity for both dark and light. Understanding design as fundamentally ethical in nature allows a shift in perspective. Crisis is not necessarily an undesirable side-effect of design to be minimised or avoided. Understood in terms of encounter with potentiality, the ability of design to bring about emergent ethical crisis can be seen as a virtue to be carefully nurtured and embraced.

Framework — Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash

What Ought Design to do?

The moralistic approach to the crisis of design privileges the question of what design ought to do. Society does need morality to function. It is a useful tool for understanding social conventions relating to what we collectively think the right thing to do might be. Moral regulation of design is well and good for what it is. Codes of conduct and professional certification schemes can serve certain practical purposes, but the limitations of the scope of such activities must be recognised. Collectively agreed moral frameworks can play aspirational, educational and regulatory roles within a discipline.¹⁹ They play an important role in collective self-definition and retrospective judgement and criticism, but offer little help to the designer faced with the challenge of emergent ethical crisis.²⁰

The principles of moral frameworks are formed in response to past experience and can only be applied to emergent ethical crisis by way of analogy: “this new situation seems a bit like that old one, perhaps we should react in a similar way”. But yesterday’s answers do not always provide the solution to tomorrow’s problems. Knowing where you have come from helps with understanding where you are, but it doesn’t tell you where you are going.

Reacting to the inadequacies of principle-based approaches, particularist approaches to morality maintain that every situation is unique and must be dealt with not by following established conventions, but according only to the parameters of its own particular context. It would not be just to automatically incarcerate all drivers of cars involved in fatal road traffic accidents. It is important to establish the particulars of each case before apportioning blame and dispensing punishment. The difficulty with particularism is that without recourse to general guiding principles we find it very difficult to explain and justify our intuitive sense of what is right. Design is an activity which by its nature takes place in the territory of the new and unknown. Every act of design represents a fresh encounter with potentiality which must be confronted in all its particularity.

The challenge facing the designer in the act of designing is how to decide what ought to be done when faced with ethical novelty which does not conform to the pattern established by existing moral frameworks. To be able to adequately address the question of what design ought or ought not to do, the matter of what design can do (is capable of) in the context in question must first be addressed. This — which forms the foundation upon which a morality of design can be built — is the question of the ethicality of design.

Moonwalk — Photo by NASA on Wikimedia

What Can Design do?

The act of design is the extension of potentiality. When design occurs it brings ethical space into being. In this sense, design is by nature a fundamentally ethical activity. It cannot be separated from the ethical. It cannot exist without bringing the ethical into being.

Understanding the nature of potentiality is key to understanding the ethicality of design. Agamben draws a distinction out of Aristotle’s thought on potentiality, distinguishing between two types: generic and existing. Generic potentiality is that which could in theory possibly come to be. In this generic sense I have the potentiality to walk on the moon. However, it would be ridiculous for me to declare that at this current moment I am simply choosing not to do so. Only when I have actually become an astronaut and am standing on the lunar surface in my space suit, do I come to possess the existing potentiality to be able to choose whether to walk or not to walk.

The interaction with potentiality which forms the basis of design’s ethicality comes in two forms. Design can extend potentiality by bringing generic potentiality into being, and design can transform generic potentialities into existing potentialities. The possibility of putting a human on the moon was imagined long before the necessary technologies had been developed. But once this abstract generic potentiality was established as a desirable goal, the efforts of designers turned this theoretical possibility into a genuinely actualisable existing potentiality.

Generic potentiality presents us with the distant possibility of the threat and uncertainty of a crisis which may come to impact us at some point. The urgency of crisis really arrives when a potentiality turns from generic to existing. The generic potentiality for self-driving cars has existed for a long time in the imaginative fantasies of science-fiction. Now advances in technology have rendered generic potentiality into existing, and we are urgently faced with making a decision as to whether or not, and in what ways, we choose to use this capability. The uncertainty inherent in the potentiality for autonomous vehicles is that we have no precedent for integrating autonomous machines into our daily lives at scale: we simply don’t know what this means. (Despite the best efforts of science fiction’s obsessive prophetic speculations on the implications of machine intelligence: from Samuel Butler’s Erewhon (1872) to Isaac Asimov’s I Robot (1950) to Clarke and Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) to the Wachowski’s The Matrix (1999) and so on.) Our existing moral and legal frameworks are unprepared for and incompatible with the concept of mass market artificially intelligent autonomous vehicles.

In transforming generic to existing potentiality, design has brought crisis upon us; bringing us face-to-face with various possibilities. At the utopian end of possibility the self-driving car could mean the end of road traffic accidents. Yet we perceive the very real and undesirable threat that any sub-optimality in the system will inevitably lead to human deaths being actively caused by autonomous machines. The potential promise of massive increases in the efficiency of transportation both in terms of resource use and journey times is tempered by fears of the perpetuation of fundamentally environmentally and socially unsustainable modes of individual-oriented transportation based on a personal ownership model. Further down the tunnel of pessimism there lie concerns about malfunction, hacking, and the robot revolution so regularly predicted in science-fiction but now a real possibility at very least in a generic sense.

The heart of the crisis of design is that we must be equally responsible for those potentialities which we choose to bring into existence, and for those possibilities which we choose not to bring into being. To fully comprehend design’s potentiality is also to understand design’s impotentiality: what it can choose not to do. Understanding this properly is a necessary prerequisite to be able to begin thinking morally about what design ought to do.

In essence the various activities of speculative and critical design (SCD) represent the attempt to approach design as an exercise in pure potentiality. SCD generally proceeds by asking “do we or do we not want to bring this speculative potentiality into being?” The criticality of SCD tends to emphasise the can not of impotentiality, presenting opportunities for what Cameron Tonkinwise (following Anne-Marie Willis and Tony Fry) calls prefigurative criticism:²¹ the possibility to choose to design something out of existence before it comes to be in the first place.

The possibility of prefigurative criticism raises the question of whether it should not be the task of design to attempt to stop ethical crises from emerging in the first place? The truth is that we cannot know what we want to avoid until we encounter and experience these things. SCD can confront us with generic potentialities, offering us the chance to act to stop these theoretical possibilities from being developed into existing potentialities or actualities. This keeps the crisis at bay, under observation at a distance, but does not exorcise it entirely. There is no way to retroactively un-design a design: to stop it having been designed in the first place. Once design has brought potentiality into being, there is no way to avoid the crisis occurring. Our only option is to choose how we respond to that which we have designed.

Design is radically disruptive in this sense. It destabilises existing states of being, creating states of uncertainty. But design’s crisis inducing character is not something to be feared. I would argue that it should instead be cautiously embraced. Through creating these states of disorientating uncertainty design offers us opportunity and possibility itself. As Dilnot writes

design is the discovery of what the artificial can be for us. Since the artificial is also today the frame of our possibilities as human beings, to discover what the artificial can be for us is to discover what our possibility can be, and hence […] it is also a discovery of what possibility can be.²²

Cautiously Embracing Crisis

Instead of seeking to regulate design with normative moral frameworks, we should embrace design’s nature as the producer of ethical crisis in our artificial world. When we extend potentiality, we are able to choose which potentialities to seek to bring into being, and which to work against (to quarantine as impotentiality). We can only intentionally do this if we are fully in control of and engaged with the design process. To fear design and to attempt to regulate and suppress its activity would be to disable our best conscious input into shaping this world for the better. Failure to recognise the ethicality of design suppresses our ability to recognise possibilities for both bad and good. It weakens design’s ability to respond (to be both responsive and responsible in relation) to crises.

However, our embrace of crisis should be cautious. Techno-utopians place blind faith in artifice to improve our world.²³ This is unwise. We must be careful to proceed with the right attitude, an attitude of critical sensitivity to be able to recognise the shape of the new space of possibility created and what this means in context. Crisis offers opportunity and threat equally. It presents, as Agamben puts it, the potentiality for both darkness and light.²⁴ Embracing the ethicality of design exposes us more fully to the simultaneous possibilities for both good and bad. It is a risky strategy, and if we are to take it we must prepare ourselves appropriately. The wise course of action is to invest in our knowledge and mastery of the design process in order to be able to more effectively control and manipulate the full spectrum of im/potentiality. Then, when we do inevitably encounter the undesirable, the bad, the evil, the terrifying possibilities unlocked by our own explorations of potentiality, we will find ourselves better equipped and prepared to negotiate these crises.


1) Boin, A. (2005). ‘From Crisis To Disaster: Towards and Integrative Approach’. In What Is a Disaster? New Answers to Old Questions, ed. Perry, R and Quarantelli, E, 153–72. Philadelphia, PA: Xlibris.

Hewitt, K. (ed). (1983). Interpretations of Calamity, from the Viewpoint of Human Ecology. London: Allen & Unwin, 10.

2) Bundy, J, Pfarrer, M, Short, C and Coombs, T. (2017). ‘Crises and Crisis Management: Integration, Interpretation, and Research Development.’ Journal of Management, 43 (6): 1661–92.

3) Boin, A, and ’t Hart, P. (2007). ‘The Crisis Approach. In Handbook of Disaster Research, ed. Rodríguez, H, Quarantelli, E and Dynes, R, 42–54. New York: Springer. 43.

4) Boin, From Crisis to Disaster, 161.

Bundy et al. Crises and Crisis Management, 1663.

Seeger, M, Sellnow, T, and Ulmer, R. (1998). ‘Communication, Organization, and Crisis.’ Annals of the International Communication Association, 21 (1): 231–76. 233

5) Boin, From Crisis to Disaster, 169.

6) Boin and ’t Hart, P, The Crisis Approach, 43.

7) Simon, H. (1996). The Sciences of the Artificial. 3rd ed. London: MIT Press, 2.

8) This is a recurring theme in Dilnot’s work. See for example:

Dilnot, C. (2008). ‘The Critical in Design (Part One).’ Journal of Writing in Creative Practice 1 (2): 177–89.

Dilnot, C. (2009). ‘Some Futures for Design History?’ Journal of Design History 22 (4): 377–94.

Dilnot, Clive. (2011). ‘Sustainability and Unsustainability in a World Become Artificial: Sustainability as a Project of History.’ Design Philosophy Papers 9 (2): 103–155.

9) Scarry, E. (1985), The Body in Pain: the making and unmaking of the world. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

10) Dilnot, C. (2005), Ethics? Design? Chicago, IL.: Archeworks.

Jackson, Mark. (2009). ‘Ethics of Design.’ Scope(Art & Design), 4: 179–87.

11) Aristotle, Metaphysics 9.1048b.

12) Buwert, P. (2017). ‘Potentiality: The Ethical Foundation of Design.’ The Design Journal 20 (sup1). S4459–67.

13) Agamben, G. (1993). The Coming Community. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 44.

14) Agamben, G. (1999). Potentialities: Collected Essays in Philosophy, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 182.

15) Agamben. The Coming Community, 43.

16) Williams, B. (2006). Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy. Abingdon: Routledge.

17) Caputo, J. (2000). ‘The End of Ethics’ In (ed) The Blackwell Guide to Ethical Theory (1st edition), ed. LaFollette, H, 111–128. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.

18) Buwert. ‘Potentiality.’

19) Frankel, M. (1989). Professional codes: Why, how, and with what impact? Journal of Business Ethics, 8 (2–3), 109–115

20) Buwert, P. (2018). ‘Examining the Professional Codes of Design Organisations’, Proceedings of the Design Research Society Conference 2018: Catalyst, Limerick, 25–28 June 2018. Volume 1. 172–186

21) Tonkinwise, C. (2014). ‘Design Away.’ In Design as Future-Making, ed. S Yelavich, B Adams, 198–213. London: Bloomsbury.

22) Dilnot, C. (2009). ‘Ethics in Design 10 Questions.’ In Design Studies a Reader, ed. Hazel Clark and David Brody, 180–90. Oxford: Berg, 184.

23) See for instance Invision’s 2016 Design Disruptor’s documentary: Invision. 2016. Design Disruptors: The Future is Designed — A Documentary by Invision.

24) Agamben. Potentialities, 181.

Blind Spots

We don’t see some things, because we’re not looking for…