Autonomy Reconsidered | Call for Papers


Autonomy reconsidered

Autonomy Reconsidered: Ethics in Architecture, Urbanism and Landscape // Call for Papers

9-11 Juli 2014 // Delft, Netherlands

Contemporary philosophy and architecture discourse alike marginalize the ethical dimension of architecture.  Yet, it seems that the ethical dimension in both architecture and philosophy has been compromised because both disciplines have not established a clear interdisciplinary understanding of autonomy. Together, and in service to both fields of study, we must reconsider what autonomy means for both architecture and philosophy, or rather, for architecture philosophy.

Without consideration to design intent, societal (at times, utopian) agendas and programs, architecture is still largely deemed to be ethically ‘neutral’ or silent. But is architecture ethically neutral? Is it ethically silent? Can ethical evaluation of designs and built objects operate autonomously from evaluation of the human agents that create them? Can a designer’s activity be considered autonomous, and hence allow for questions of attribution and responsibility? Once we isolate the architectural, landscape, or urban designer from outside pressures, and only focus on her core métier – to what extent is that isolated activity autonomous? And if an architect’s actions cannot be autonomous, would architecture stop having to answer to itself?

Philosophical ethics has opened its purview beyond human action to animal ethics and environmental ethics, but has not yet found a way to expand its existing reflections to designed objects, particularly built ones. Perhaps in parallel to ethics, contemporary aesthetics discusses the moral repercussions of art works with clear representational content – socially critical novels, figurative paintings – but has not paid closer attention to architecture.  Is the lack of attention in aesthetics due to architecture’s representational content being elusive, or because architecture’s aesthetic appraisal is taken to proceed autonomously from moral considerations? How would architecture be considered otherwise?

The 2014 conference of the International Society for the Philosophy of Architecture invites papers which probe these questions, or re-draw the assumptions behind them. It welcomes architects and philosophers willing to scrutinize extant (inter)disciplinary boundaries and consensus on these questions. The conference celebrates attempts to operate at the intersection of both disciplines, and promotes work ready to give philosophical ethics and concrete architect(ure)s serious consideration alike.

Authors are invited to submit a 300-500 word abstract by January 31, 2014.

More info and subscription here.

Jointly sponsored by the Faculties of Technology, Policy and Management (TPM) and Architecture at the Delft University of Technology, Netherlands.


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