Design for the values of democracy and justice

A.J.K. Pols, A. Spahn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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In this chapter, we provide an overview of literature on the relation between technology and design and the values of democracy and justice. We first explore how philosophy has traditionally conceptualized democracy and justice. We then examine general philosophical theories and arguments about this relation, dealing with the conception of technology as being "value-free" as well as with pessimistic and more optimistic assessments with regard to technology’s potential for advancing democracy and justice. Next, we turn to three concrete design methods that seek to promote democracy and justice in the design process, namely, participatory design, technology assessment, and value-sensitive design. Finally, we examine two cases of technology influencing democracy and justice: one regarding the relation between energy technology and democracy and one regarding the use of social media during the Arab Spring. We conclude that many pessimists focus on the "technological mind-set" as a problem that undermines democracy and justice; that in the absence of general design guidelines for democracy and justice, a focus on democracy and justice in the design process seems all the more important; and that design methods tend to include values rather than theories of democracy and justice, which suggests that a further integration of philosophy and the design sciences could create added value for both disciplines.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Ethics, Values and Technology Design
EditorsJ. Hoven, van den, P. Vermaas, I. Poel, van de
Place of PublicationDordrecht
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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