Notwithstanding the massive impact that architecture and, more generally, the built, or human-constructed, environment has on people and the planet, serious attempts explicitly to address ethical issues associated with architecture and the built environment have thus far been few and far between, whether we consider approaches to this topic from the philosophical side or the design and architecture side. Thus the study of architecture ethics, the ethics of architecture or, more generally, the ethics of the built environment, the ethics of the human-constructed realm, or the ethics of design, is still in its infancy (see the introduction to Fox 2000 for more on this point as well as a fairly complete listing of the few books and paper-length contributions on architecture ethics that preceded that publication).
Why is this important field of architecture ethics so underdeveloped? On the architecture side, we can cite several possible reasons. First, we can note Fisher’s (2000: 123) point that architecture “has long been viewed as a branch of aesthetics rather than ethics. If anything, ethics has been thought of as applying to architects and not to architecture, to the actions of professionals, not the traits of buildings.” (Fisher immediately proceeds to warn that “Our profession, however, has not attended enough to the connection between buildings and ethics, and that has gotten us in trouble,” and calls in his concluding chapter for ...