Empathy: The Foundation of Moral Design

Seth Godin delivers a hilarious critique of poor design in this 2006 talk titled ‘This is Broken.” 

 

Empathy is also one of the foundational pillars of morality, because moral issues only exist in the context of relationships.  Moral issues arise only because our actions have consequences for others,  When we consider these consequences in our own behavior, and consider the extent to which we might put our own well-being at risk for the sake of others, then we are thinking morally.  To understand those consequences, moral thinking requires us to be able to imagine them from the perspective of the person that will experience them.  Godin seems to be suggesting that every design constructs a relationship with the user, and where the designer imposes costs or hardships on the user (especially without the consent of the user!), then the design is immoral — and therefore subject to ridicule. 

Thomas P Seager