DESIGN AS ETHICS
(Excerpt from online blog)
"Caroline Whitbeck in Ethics in Engineering Practice and Research argues that ethics is traditionally regarded as judging something that has already been done. But the bigger challenge and what ethics should be is about the way to act. And that is a problem of design: devising ethical courses of action.
Design itself is ethics. It is all about what is the right thing to do, and not just technically. Everything that is made is an argument about how we should live our lives. The world is filled with competing objects that are arguing amongst themselves for our attention. "Live my way! Live my way!" Deciding where and how to employ the art of design is an ethical issue.
Designers need to be both technically right and compellingly wise. Wisdom is about evaluating and choosing between competing principles. And to be wise is to be aware. And awareness is the passage to action."
This designer interestingly puts forward the idea that it is not the final product or it's use that is the ethical issue, but the very act of design.
Hypothetically, by doing a bad design for a company you morally object to (i.e. design you know is on a base level unsuccessful, lacks necessary aesthetic etc.) you are still being ethical because you are plotting a greater 'ethical route' that subverts the unethical and promotes the ethical via comparative successes/failures.
Also, if you were to say refuse said company, you would have no control over it's future or influence, and would thus be as responsible for it's future successes (due to inaction) as if you had created fantastic, successful work.
The general idea is that your motives behind a piece matter more than the purpose of the piece.