Ben Sweeting
University of Brighton
In this paper I speak directly to the subject matter of this conference: to its theme of flourishing, and to the subject areas of systems thinking and design that this conference series as a whole seeks to bring together. The conference theme of flourishing is a direct reference to ethics, and in particular the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle. There has been a revival of interest in this in recent decades under the heading of virtue ethics. Aristotle defined the good as that at which all things aim, and so in terms of goals and purpose. He described the goal of human life in terms eudemonia, which is usually translated as either human flourishing or the good life. There is a clear connection between this conception of ethics in terms of purpose and both design and systems. Design is an explicitly purposeful activity, which can be understood as the attempt to devise “courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones”. Purpose is of central concern for how we understand systems, most explicitly in cybernetics. The aim of this paper is to make explicit some of the deep interconnections between these three areas in terms of the theme of purpose, and to suggest areas of common concern where they might lend support to each other. In order to do this within the scope of this paper, I focus on a specific point of reference in each of the three areas: to Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue, Dalibor Vesely’s account of architecture, and to the debate around Rosenblueth, Wiener and Bigelow’s proto-cybernetic paper.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2017
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 63,319
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory.Alasdair C. MacIntyre - 1983 - University of Notre Dame Press.
The Sciences of the Artificial.Herbert A. Simon - 1969 - [Cambridge, M.I.T. Press.
After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory.Samuel Scheffler - 1983 - Philosophical Review 92 (3):443.
Purposeful and Non-Purposeful Behavior: A Rejoinder.Richard Taylor - 1950 - Philosophy of Science 17 (4):327-332.

View all 10 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Design Research as a Variety of Second-Order Cybernetic Practice.Ben Sweeting - 2016 - Constructivist Foundations 11 (3):572-579.
Toward an Horizon in Design Ethics.Philippe D’Anjou - 2010 - Science and Engineering Ethics 16 (2):355-370.
Composing Conferences.Michael Hohl & Ben Sweeting - 2015 - Constructivist Foundations 11 (1).
What Can Cybernetics Learn From Design?C. M. Herr - 2016 - Constructivist Foundations 11 (3):583-585.
Aristotle's Virtue Ethics.John Bowin - forthcoming - In A Companion to World Literature. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell.
Thomistic Eudaimonism, Virtue, and Well-Being.Matthew Shea - 2017 - Southwest Philosophy Review 33 (1):173-185.
Digital Design Research and Second-Order Cybernetics.M. de Sousa van Stralen - 2016 - Constructivist Foundations 11 (3):586-587.
Construction and Design.Ranulph Glanville - 2006 - Constructivist Foundations 1 (3):103-110.
All About Eve:A Report on Environmental Virtue Ethics Today.Robert Hull - 2005 - Ethics and the Environment 10 (1):89-110.


Added to PP index

Total views
11 ( #825,837 of 2,448,685 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #447,034 of 2,448,685 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes