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Transparency in Responsible Design: Avoiding Engineering Overconfidence and Supporting Societal Acceptance

  • Pieter Vermaas (a1)

Abstract

In this contribution it is argued that in responsible design engineers should be transparent towards stakeholders about the goals they intend to realise with their designs. The emergence of responsible design in, e.g., value-sensitive design, design for values, social design, nudging and positive design, is to be welcomed. It has however the weakness of overconfidence which may lead engineers to suspend earlier commitments to society as given in engineering codes of conduct and ethics, and practices of seeking informed consent and taking blame. It is argued that these earlier commitments lead to the requirement that engineers should be transparent about the goals in responsible designs. Providing this transparency support moreover the societal acceptance of responsible design since it positions engineers doing responsible design as subscribing to values such as respect, honesty and trust. I illustrate the argument with a case of social design and a case of nudging.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.

Corresponding author

Contact: Vermaas, Pieter, Delft University of Technology, Philosophy, The Netherlands, p.e.vermaas@tudelft.nl

References

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