Tool no. 20 - Quadratic Ethics
A four-fold, self-inclusive, 3D modeling system for mapping ethical relations
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The Underlying Issues
The Ten Commandments (in Hebrew)
- Today, consumer-oriented, individual rights-centred codes tend to be humanistic.
- How can ethics work beyond the oversimplified language of 'individual rights'?
- Many people still follow religions that present moral codes as simple imperatives (e.g. one 'ought' to, or 'must' do x or y).
- At worst, these fundamentalist doctrines are commandments in which the context has been lost or forgotten.
- This means that they have also lost their 'dimensionality'.
- The tacit, situated, or embodied relations on which the stories were based has been flattened into one dimension, i.e. the individual's obligation to a rule, or code.
The Tool's Purpose
- While a context, purpose, or beneficiary can often be inferred, they are seldom stated.
- What is needed is a method of mapping more dimensions that reconcile all the salient factors.
- This tool can be used to enrich existing codes of morality.
- By reducing a vast array of agents to four relational elements it is easier to manage them (why four?).
- It enables professionals and citizens to visualise their situation in a self-reflexive way.
- It is a subtle tool that needs careful explaining and reflection.
- It has proved highly successful, especially when used in design education at graduate level.
- Looking at relations between things is a more systemic approach that may enable better results.
- But this level of description is usually too subtle and complex for creative individuals, and teams
- Western codes, and discussions, of morality usually become deontological, therefore one-dimensional
- This has been unfortunate, because actions tend to be discussed in terms of propriety, rather than effectiveness
- A suitable tool would need to be understandable and accessible, yet complex enough to be practically effective
- A successful tool would encourage the user to achieve a sophisticated and effective level of self-reflexivity
- This tool will be offered to United Nations when it is sufficiently developed
- Four (rather than any other number) has been chosen because tetrahedral logic has auspicious properties
The Players - the nodes, or vertices of the tetrahedron
- It is also handy because it can be used as a four-dimensional fractal ethics that reconciles the needs of:
- a) ME - (could signify one's role as a designer, creative agent, manager or worker)
- b) PROPOSITION - (could signify work done, a service, a design or an idea)
- c) CLIENT - (could signify a stakeholder, recipient or customer)
- d) CONTEXT - (e.g. could signify the locality, constraints, or natural environment, etc.)
- John Ruskin's notion of craft as a whole system can easily be mapped using this tool
- In the above illustration, the relations between the four players/agents are represented by the 6 edges:
The Relations - the edges of the tetrahedron
- 1) The employer's relationship with/experience of the community and Nature
- 2) The craftsman's relationship with/experience of the community and Nature
- 3) The craftsman's experience of the act of working
- 4) The employer's experience of the work itself
- 5) The relationship between the work carried out and the community and environment
- 6) The employer's relationship with the craftsman
- Much of the (tetrahedron's topology) history is explained in the tetrahedral logic tool
- Rudolph Laban used the tetrahedron as a body-oriented constant within his Labanotation method of 1928
- Wood (1995) critique of academic rigour
- Wood (2000) notion of mapping relations in a space-time continuum
- Wood (2005) emphasis on ethical issues that would emerge from a less deontological, linear
- Wood, J., (1995), "The idea of academic rigour in 4-D space": paper delivered at the "4-D Dynamics" conference, Design Research Society, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK, (September 1995),
- Wood, J., (2000),"2-D Writing in a 4-D World", paper given at the "New Kinds of Writing in the Academy; ESAP in the Humanities" Conference, Goldsmiths College, 26 February, 2000
- Wood, J., (2005) ‘The Tetrahedron Can Encourage Designers To Formalise More Responsible Strategies’, for the ‘Journal of Art, Design & Communication’, Volume 3 Issue 3, Editor, Linda Drew, UK, ISSN: 1474-273X, pp. 175-192
- Tool no.1 - Logic of the Tetrahedron
- Tool no.9 - Quadrant-as-Map Tool
- Tool no.13 - Holistic mapping
- Tool no.39 - Win win win win
- Tool no.89 - Quadratic Innovation
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