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Designing for Sustainability: Negotiating Ethical Implications

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1 Author(s)
Denise Oram ; The Centre for Applied Internet Research, Glyndˆwr University, North East Wales, U.K.

This article presents the "culturally negotiated ethical triangle" as a tool for those charged with making decisions involving issues of sustainability and society. Analyzing decision-making processes for creating and developing new technologies is a crucial component of advancing sustainability. For ethical decision making, the process of taking decisions is opaque. If a decision is arrived at through negotiation, and if that negotiation involves people of different cultural backgrounds who bring different ingrained systems of thinking to the table then it is vital to have some way for all parties to understand different cultural systems of thinking. If the negotiations do not take into account the relevant cultural differences, then some of the decision makers will leave the table valuing the final decision less than others or a decision may not be reached at all. The ethical decision-making process needs to be visualized, as its current intangibility does not allow for accountability. We must identify the complexity of the situation and have a direction for decision making. A decision involving, say, investment and probabilities of financial return can be informed by the use of statistical models. A decision involving ethical considerations is not as easy to evaluate though the two are rarely mutually exclusive and requires an explicit model of ethical decision making.

Published in:

IEEE Technology and Society Magazine  (Volume:29 ,  Issue: 3 )