LC8 Design for Justice

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LC8 Design for Justice
Self-driving car in desert

Technology has the potential to contribute to a just society, but unfortunately, some technologies only reinforce existing inequalities. To address this issue, methods such as Value Sensitive Design and ethics-by-design have gained popularity over the past decade. These methods aim to integrate values, like justice, into the early stages of technology design and development.

In this course, we explore the relationship between design and justice, asking fundamental questions about design for justice. For example, we consider what justice means, who gets to design, whom we design for, and what values we embed and reproduce in our technology. We also delve into the key philosophical foundations and issues of designing for values, investigating what values are, accounts of how values can be embedded in new technologies, and how value conflicts and value change affects designing for justice. Throughout the course, we examine various cases of designing for justice, including architecture and artificial intelligence.

The lectures will be given September 5th until 9th.  The presentations are September 13th.



1. Technology and values

– Brief historical overview about thinking about values and technology in philosophy of technology
– What are values?
– Technology: value- neutral or value-laden?

2. Embedding values in technology

– Accounts of value embedding in philosophy

3. Design for values 1

– Design for Values and Value Sensitive Design, and other approaches of embedding values in technology
– Value conceptualization and value specification

4. Design for values 2

– Value conflict
– Changing values

5. The value of justice

– What is justice? Procedural, distributive and recognition justice
– Rawls and developments after Rawls

6. Design justice

– justice in the design literature
– Who gets to design?
– Who do we design for and with?

7. Domains of design for justice:

– Fairness and justice in the design of algorithms
– Spatial justice and urban design
– Design for justice in water management

Aim / objective

After the course participants will be able to:

· Understand the relation between technology, values, and justice
· Argue why technology can or cannot embody values (and if so how)
· Explain basic notions of values and justice within philosophy and other relevant disciplines
· Differentiate main approaches to designing for values
· Characterize and discuss ‘value conflict’ and ‘value change’, and understand the implications of these phenomena for designing for values and designing for justice
· Evaluate technology in terms of justice


Active participation is required. Each session has a number of required readings, that participants should have read beforehand. At the end of the course the students will give a presentation.

Credit points

Study load is the equivalent of: 5 ECTS.


The course is free for PhD candidates who are a member of the 4TU Center for Ethics and Technology and/or OZSW.

The course is also free for ReMa students who are a member of the OZSW and/or 4TU Center for Ethics and Technology.

All others will pay a registration fee of €300.

Registration/application form

The deadline for registration is August 20, 2023.

PhD candidates can register here.

If places available, also open to

1st / 2nd year ReMa students. If you are interested in participating, please send an email to to be put on a waiting list. You will be notified by August 26 if you can register and join the course.

More information

For more information about the contents of the course contact Ibo van der Poel or look at the website of the OZSW.