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Ethics and Strategy in Decision-Based Design Frameworks: Problems and Solutions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 July 2019


Engineering Design decisions impact customers, the environment and society at large in ways that have profound ethical and strategic implications for designers. Previous research in decision-based design has proposed the decisions should be made on the basis of maximizing the expected utility of the design to the designer. This paper discusses ethical and strategic challenges for these frameworks across five levels: the axioms that underlie utility, the definition of utility, the consideration of multiple stakeholders, the modeling scope, and resulting design framework implementation. Based on these problems, solutions are suggested to account for each in the development of improved, ethically- informed frameworks. Challenges presented here do not prohibit the prudent use of decision-based design frameworks per se, but instead point to cases that must addressed in practice while providing grounds for further research towards the development of decision-based design frameworks that are ethical by design.

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