ETHICS THE PROFESSION & ARCHITECTURE: A philosophical consideration of risk and practice www.leonvanschaik.com Are we born moral? John Gray, NYRB May 10 2007pp 2628 Moral Minds: How nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong, by Marc D. Hauser, Ecco, 2007, NY Humans have an inborn moral faculty, parts of which they share with other animals… This „deep moral grammar‟ underpins all reasoning on ethics… Even though based on an evolved capability, to use Ethics consciously, they must be an argued position Peter Singer Practical Ethics Cambridge University Press 1979: "The notion of living according to ethical standards is tied up with the notion of defending the way one is living, of giving a reason for it, of justifying it.” Davis McCaughey's corollary: "the professional's responsibility to know is not just intellectual; it has a moral content" conscious principles of ethical argument Universalisability: application to all life forces (Kant) conscious principles of ethical argument 2 Humanity: ... who argues ethically and is ... physically intact can only at the expense of pragmatic self- contradiction deny that the physical integrity of (people) should be protected... (Kant) conscious principles of ethical argument 3 Informed Consent: Nuremberg Code (Beauchamp/Walters 1978). Every case must be examined individually to find out whether principles from other regions can be transferred and are more generalisable (universal) than regionally held beliefs/customs etc. This irredeemably qualifies regionalism, tribalism etc conscious principles of ethical argument 4 Content: the material values of groups involved in an action must be examined. As is argued in Zimmerli W, The Principles of a Non-Principle Orientated Ethics, Paper, What seems absurd or RMIT, 1989 alternative today may be commonsense tomorrow: eg. preserving the ecological balance as a value for car-makers thirty years ago. Content Cont. Codes are often abstract: But in reality human rights are site specific and time specific. John Gray, Black Mass: apocalyptic religion & the death of utopia, Penguin 2007 London.) Second Order Cybernetics adds Generosity as a fifth principle The principle of generosity proposes that our ethical positions must maximise the opening of options. This fifth test for an ethical statement asks: does it increase choice? A lifetime of studying systems has lead Heinz von Vorster to argue that ethical positions necessarily open up options, unethical ones close them down. Heinz von Foerster, Bernhard Poerksen (2002). Understanding Systems. Conversations on Epistemology and Ethics. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers. New York, Boston, Dordrecht, London Moscow Professional Ethics -the codes, conventions and guide-lines that control the patterns of life adopted by members of a profession. McCaughey argues that: -"the fusing of three values in a profession gains other people's respect: McCaughey, Davis (1988). Piecing Together a Shared Vision. 1987 Boyer Lectures. ABC Enterprises. Crows Nest, NSW 1 the value placed upon systematic knowledge and the intellect - knowing 2 the value placed upon technical skill and trained capacity - doing 3 the value placed upon putting this conjoint knowledge and skill to work in the service of others - helping Goldilocks‟ ethical analysis: • Its too big - architecture can solve everything and anything • Its too small - architecture is a private game • Its just right - architecture as the practice of spatial intelligence… To know what? Its too big: “Architecture is the art of human shelter” -the widest definition - the argument has to be that Architecture must be for all… which is primarily (I think) a political goal, that architects can and should assist. Utopic pursuits of impossible goals have had dire consequences for people: John Gray, Black Mass, Penguin, 2007, London To know what? Its too small: If Architecture is Eisenman-like aesthetic dexterity visible only to a cognoscenti, - the narrowest definition - then the esoteric detachment of the profession becomes readily apparent: How can such Architecture be for all? To know what ? Its just right: The moral justification of our position as takes us justification of our a architectsThe moralinexorably towards position closer and restricted definition of as architects takes us inexorably architecture, and hence towards a focus on towards a closer and restricted architectural reality. As is argued in Zimmerli definition of architecture, and hence towards of a Non-Principle W, The Principles a focus on architectural reality, Orientated Ethics Paper RMIT 1989; there on spatial intelligence. are Ethics must be problem-orientated. "Four Principles of a Problem Orientated Ethics" To do what? And for whom? Its too big: bottom up The principle of Universality requires of this position that architecture is about „Existenzminimum‟ (eg. the Frankfurt kitchen) - a basic access to serviced shelter for every living creature is a universal moral necessity… It‟s too big: top down Le Corbusier‟s CIAM coup in which architecture is put at the service of the state, any state… To help whom? Getting it „just right‟ No one (Humanity), no being (All Life) can be denied the quality of shelter that I aspire to, or achieve This is a political crusade, not best pursued thro Architecture? Happiness Science- Inequality is the prime cause of unhappiness Richard Layard (2005). Happiness: Lessons for a new science,Penguin,London To help how? Politics must seek what architecture cannot seek: Borderless service; borderless provision, (an end to the apartheids that structure the world economy). The principle of Informed Consent applies to us: We are all party to the denial of quality shelter to the shanty-dwellers and the homeless (i) in our society (ii) in our trading partners' societies (iii) on this globe To help in what specific context? Getting it just right: Content (problem based ethics): Some (affordable) quick fixes have unintended consequences: •Asbestos sheeting made shelter more affordable… •Nuclear power? •Not recycling water? Not capturing stormwater…? •Building a desalination plant powered by brown coal electricity? •Building a North South pipeline? •etc ? Getting it just right: Generosity flows through enchainments, & that requires self knowledge. Getting it just right: Generosity versus exclusivity: Ernest L. Boyer, Lee D. Mitgang, Building Community: A new future for Architecture Education and Practice, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, (1996) Princeton, versus Architectural theory that is isolated from societal needs & the abdication of architecture to elite and commercial demands (as decried by Tafuri) To know what? Understanding „just right‟ in architectural practice: Dilemmas for Architecture An… important dilemma is that architecture provides services that are seemingly not vital to people's health and welfare in the same sense that the professional services of physicians, or even lawyers and dentists, are (Blau, LvS italics). To know what? De-Confusing the Knowledge Base: the basis for „just right‟ Many of these dilemmas result from the fact that much of the building field is controlled not by architects but by engineers, developers, and building contractors - at least in sheer numbers of buildings (Blau) we cannot claim exclusivity of knowledge or service… 3% of houses, 8-12% of housing, 80% of institutional & commercial buildings (?) 20% of industrial (?) how much of the landscape? What is Architecture‟s exclusive knowledge base? Spatial thinking How can our architecture best pursue a „just right‟ role? Base it on the spatial intelligence of us all? through (tri) polarities derived from ethical argument: Idealist/realist/populist Firmness/Commodity/Delight Tectonics/Civic Narrative Expression/Poetics &…? Exemplar: Melbourne Masters Architecture TarraWarra Museum of Art 2004/5 http://www.leonvanschaik.com/ethics.htm Getting it „just right‟ finding a continuum between the spatial intelligence of everyone and of architects and their canons: “But the common denominator in achieving architectural presence on a broader front is community respect for the act of architecture itself, not simply a procuration process.” Kerstin Thompson at launch of Design City Melbourne, April 28, 2006 Towards a continuum: Architecture as caretaker of everyone‟s history in space Our architectural engagement with spatial intelligence is applied through dialogues with society. Architecture suffers when it is simply asserted as the will of a designer, or as the logic of a canon, without accessing the spatial intelligence of the community it serves. Such assertions close down people‟s engagements with architectural reality and damage society‟s regard for spatial thinking as a knowledge held in custody by experts. Spatial Intelligence as a knowledge base for a „just right‟ architectural practice: Universality: everyone has the capability of spatial intelligence, what we do acknowledges that. Humanity: architecture holds the accumulated spatial knowledge of society in custody, and develops it Informed Consent: the architecture that I do is in conversation with that of the client community and of the best of its kind on the globe Content: applying spatial thinking to specific situations Generosity: acknowledge tri-polar debate as a tool for building a continuum between specialist knowledge and community mental space (in Piu) How? To extend the penetration of spatial thinking in Australia we have to look for more than a structural adjustment such as introducing a short-listing, criterion based selection system, such as that pioneered here at RMIT. We face the longer task of creating an intellectual context through which we achieve respect for the profession of spatial intelligence, a profession that creates spatial realities appropriate to the needs of each place and of each community that we serve. Creating a continuum “It is to the extent that architecture is valued in the community as a part of its intellectual life that we must envy our northern colleagues, for their value depends on this general valuation - usually the result of centuries of accretion.” Kerstin Thompson ibid And the sense of an architectural continuum depends on spatial thinking being held in high regard by entire communities. The way to a continuum: • When a parent throws a ball to a child, the entire sporting continuum opens up ahead of both, all the way to the finals and on to the Olympics, with every shade of possibility in between. • When a parent chooses wallpaper or buys a lamp, we scorn the decorative impulse and close down the continuum of inhabiting space… thus isolating architecture and belittling the spatial intelligence of all… Steen Eiler Rasmussen, Experiencing Architecture, Chapman & Hall Ltd. (1959) London But where does quality service arise? The emphasis on corporate values over architectural values denies the fact that (Blau): Small and incompletely rationalised offices, though handicapped by diseconomies of scale, are the seedbed of ideas that produce high quality work. And when they venture beyond the limits of their scale and flaunt their diseconomies, they do exceptionally good work. The need is to bring small scale operators into engagement with broad communal objectives Architecture is inherently risk-taking: "Daedalus is remembered as the first to venture to fly (escaping from Minos with his son Icarus). What is often forgotten is that Daedalus, in legend at least, was also the first important architect, having designed the extraordinary labyrinth and temple complex for his patron, King Minos.” (Blau) Icarus of course flew too high, the sun melted the wax holding the feathers to his wings, and he plunged into the sea and died. Embracing the continuum is to engage the community with creative risk: "Ideas are found to play a role in change, and although it is a conditional role, they are instrumental just at the point of potential impasse, specifically in the midst of structural contradictions...”(Blau) There are no predetermined outcomes. The piling up of contradictions is redolent with vast indeterminacy, which in turn creates the opportunities for experimentation and innovation ... in our chosen field Embracing risk: A variety of forms of risk structure are inherent in architecture. These relate to the dilemmas that confront contemporary practitioners. Blau J Architects and Firms: a Sociological Perspective on Architectural Practice The MIT Press 1987 Risk Management? Architecture ... is governed by structures of risk that accompany opposing conditions of various sorts: each embodying ethical dilemmas The dilemmas: •the dependence on commissions (but cf. Katsalidis); •a poor distinction between architecture and building, (and thus among architects and engineers, developers, contractors) - that is: a confused knowledge base; •the lack of congruence between those to whom the architect is ethically responsible (for example the residents of a housing project) and those to whom an architect is accountable (the ... agency commissioning it) •the constraints imposed on design practice by the increasing size and complexity of architectural offices; •the lag between plans and their fully realised built form; Risk Avoidance • Corporate structures for architecture seek to shift the risk to those who stand to benefit. Murphy Jahn, for example, do not design any details. They describe what they want, and approve shop drawings of details designed by the contractors, but on the basis of „the look‟ alone. • The architecture is only as good as the descriptions…which makes us into poets? A Risk Embracing Ethics? • Can a profession of rebels exist? knowing, doing, helping rebels? • Or is „the profession‟ with its normative business ethics codes the wrong vehicle for research-led practice? • Could a discourse-based ethics support research-led practice? Paradox: success tends to normalisation ... and risk avoidance. For further success, another Daedalus risk cycle must ensue… See Mastering Architecture: Becoming a Creative Innovator in Practice, Wiley Academy, Chichester. A Risk Embracing Ethics? A Risk Embracing Ethics? • Components of such an ethics: Remembering cultural capital • Components of such an ethics: Building public behaviours Components of such an Ethics: Growing local cultures of architecture (i) “Quaderns sets out to present the architecture produced within our territorial scope… The market and propaganda creates and promotes solitary architects, rooted by nothing but their killer instinct, individual creators in need of a recognisable philosophy and style of their own the inspired authors of singular buildings…” Components of such an Ethics: Growing local cultures of architecture (ii) “Quaderns seeks to counter this figure with that of an architect in whom ability and personal skill are the manifestation of a collective body of knowledge, learned and constituted over time, in which individual difference forms part of the characteristics of the community.” Editorial Q249 Spring 2006 So, a tale of two cities (i) In this city •the schools are indifferent to speculative research through design; •the leaders of the profession sue their critics for damages; •research is confined to building science or history; •the intellectual life of architecture is circumscribed to „one true path‟ •the leaders engage in power politics placing commercial values ahead of architectural values. Here there an ethical profession of architecture is difficult to achieve. A tale of two cities (ii) In this city •architects ensure that the schools are predominantly engaged in speculative, practice-based research in the medium of architecture itself; •practice is informed by ideas; •a tri-polarity of ideas is nurtured; •positions are articulated in exhibitions and publications; •established architects engage in design research; •government ensures that small practices have work in the public sector, that there is a ladder of opportunity; •the community is engaged in the spatial thinking continuum. Here there is a possibility of ethical architecture.