When it comes to making ethical decisions, there is often no clear right or wrong answer. An ethical approach can help guide your choices as you construct narratives around design work—whether you’re relaying user-research insights, communicating the value of design to your business stakeholders, or showcasing the impacts of your designs.
Standard Approaches to Ethics
Let’s consider a few standard approaches to ethical theory. These approaches include the following:
- care-based ethics—This ethical approach focuses on promoting healthy relationships with people and the well-being of others.
- deontological ethics—Your goal in following this approach is to uphold your moral duties above all else.
- rights-based ethics—In taking this approach, you endeavor to live in accordance with your rights and responsibilities.
- utilitarian ethics— This ethical approach seeks to generate the best outcomes for the largest numbers of people.
- virtue-driven ethics—In this approach, you endeavor to be the best person you can be.
Applying any one of these approaches can lead to your making more thoughtful and nuanced design decisions.
Applying Ethical Approaches
Imagine that you’re preparing a quarterly review for your organization’s leadership team. You would, of course, want to please these important stakeholders, so you might feel some pressure to share just the positive news from your UX research findings. However, you also value the virtues of honesty and transparency.
How should you balance the tension between these two conflicting forces? Applying an ethical approach that aligns with both your own and your organization’s goals could help you decide how best to move forward.
Let’s look at how each of these ethical approaches might apply in this situation.