Semiotics, Compassion and Value-Centered
4. COMPASSION, ETHICS AND VALUES
The Dalai Lama argued in Ethics for the New Millenium that:
This may be based in mirror neurons, which respond to specific
gestures in others.
- everyone wants to be happy and content, and
- an important way to do this is live ethically, for example,
- avoid harming others.
- Everyone has compassion, i.e. can feel others, which makes possible
Clearly, empathy and compassion are inhibited by preconceptions
Arguments against rule based ethics are similar to arguments against
But rules are valuable as guidelines, as with design.
- Fixed rules cannot anticipate complexities of the human condition, and
- they require interpretation.
- And second order rules like Kant's categorical imperative require even
Problems arise when rules are seen as universal principles.
Human nature is sufficient for ethical behavior, if sufficiently
Groundlessness is a ground for authentic behavior, including genuine
ethics, and effective, creative design.
Indeed, effective behavior cannot be separated from ethical
Ethnomethodology says members apply concepts and methods to account for
events in social context.
This is accountability; it expresses group values by
highlighting some aspects and downplaying others.
Information emerges interactively through accountability in real
Groups, values, and information are coemergent, in that each produces and
sustains the others:
- Everything in social life get meaning through accountability relations,
- Therefore it has an inherent ethical component.
Values are a necessary presupposition of analysis, because members'
accounting, based on shared values, renders their concepts and methods visible
- groups exist because members share values and information with one
- values exist because they are shared and communicated within groups; and
- information arises as groups with shared values cope with a dynamic world.
But how does a working designer (or manager, or systems analyst)
actually discover values?
Methods include the following:
The following case studies have been done:
- practical ethnography (participant observation, field notes, audio and
video recordings, etc.);
- work of Labov on evaluation in stories;
- work of Sacks on interactions of speakers and audience during the telling
of jokes; and
- the KJ method (of Kawakita) to classify discourse fragments.
These confirm that the method seems promising.
- value-based requirements analysis for small corporate recruitment firm;
- values in database interfaces; and
- values in mathematical proofs.