The Varieties of Good Design

Salu Ylirisku, Mattias Arvola

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


This chapter explores the philosopher and logician Georg Henrik von Wright’s metaethical treatise of the varieties of goodness in the context of design. von Wright investigated the use of notion of ‘good’ in language, and he identified six kinds of goodness: namely utilitarian goodness, instrumental goodness, technical goodness, medical goodness, hedonic goodness, and the good of man. We discuss these different kinds of goodness in relation to six design traditions that we identify, namely conceptual design, usability design, engineering design, ergonomics design, experience design and sustainability design. We argue that the design traditions are grounded in different appreciations of goodness, and that designers and design researchers can benefit from a more precise discernment of values that underpin design processes and design critique in different traditions. von Wright’s treatise serves as a point of departure for the appraisal of the multifaceted and relational character of the idea of good design and of the values of design.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvancements in the Philosophy of Design
EditorsPieter E. Vermaas, Stéphane Vial
Number of pages20
Edition1st edition
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-73302-9
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-73301-2
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book

Publication series

NameDesign Research Foundations
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
ISSN (Print)2366-4622


  • Design
  • Goodness
  • Varieties of goodness
  • Values
  • Design traditions
  • Virtues


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