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© 2009-2019 by ISPA

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 for a 20 minute presentation slot by January 31, 2014.

Authors will have to register for the Aanmelder.nl site (web links below) to submit their abstracts and register for the conference. Please email either isparchitecture[at]googemail[dot]com or carfahey[at]gmail[dot]com for assistance. 

<< Abstract Submission (now closed) >> (All abstracts have been double blind reviewed by the society’s Business Group. Reviewers adhered to the ISPA journal’s review criteria, with the additional point of evaluation being whether the abstract directly engages the conference theme.)

<< Registration >>

<< Accepted Abstracts >> 

<< Conference Program >>

<< Travel and Accommodation >>

The conference includes an optional day trip to the award winning Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision building designed by Neutelings Riedijk Architects. The visit will include a guided tour by the architect Michiel Riedijk, Chair of Architecture at the Delft University of Technology and co-organizer of the 2014 ISPA Conference. Click here for more information about the day trip.

Jointly sponsored by the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management (TPM), 3TU Centre of Ethics and Technology, and the Chair of Architecture at the Delft University of Technology, Netherlands.

Organized by Stefan KollerCarolyn Fahey, and Michiel Riedijk.

Steering Group includes Andrew BallantyneRick FoxThomas HeydVasilis GaniatsasGraham Owen, and Tom Spector.