Audience: people who work in the creative fields, including but not limited to the arts, design, technology or education.The guide can be applicable for anyone navigating their professional career in a Capitalist system. I'm writing this for myself, my friends and students who spent time in the big tech companies, or going into the tech world, people who work for ethically questionable companies, complicit to human rights issues, such as Palatir or Pharma, environmentally damaging practices, or those who embrace sexist, racist, ableist leaderships or values. It's also for people who work in the art world or the non-profit world, who struggle to find peace and balance with their sponsorships and complicity to the source of their fundings.
History: It's important to acknowledge the history of context of ethical decision making. We can learn fron Kant's discussion about deontological moral theory, which 'the rightness or wrongness of actions does not depend on their consequences but on whether they fulfill our duty.' Building on that, we can complicate, rather than simplify the issues of ethics and justice, as explored in the Frontiers of Justice by Nussbaum. The historicity of ethical practice gives us two important points for reflection. 1. People have been struggling with this for a very long time. 2. What was once considered ethical is unethical as times go by.
Alternative practices: There are vast examples of people who create ethical technologies and products. There's something to learn from their struggles and success. Also, free, non-profit, open source doesn't necessarily mean the product/practice is more ethical. There are many privileges and complicity that enables such alternatives. When we reach the moment when it feels like nothing can be done, or done ethically, we need to remind ourselves, ethical practice does not need to be arduous or painful. As explored by Adrienne Maree Brown, there can be pleasure in activism. Perhaps, that desire, joy, solidarity and love can be the process of ethical practice, not a prize at the end.
Guide for myself:
- Simple manifesto for professional decision making, intention for my creative practice, what I wish to be doing full time and how I wish to do them.
- Astra Taylor (Activist, organizers, Debt Collective)
- Simone Leigh (Artist, People's Clinic)
- Martha Nussbaum (Philosopher)
- Adrienne Maree Brown (Activist, poet)
- Dr Kim Tallbear (Indigenous STS)