The Varieties of Good Design

  • Salu Ylirisku
  • Mattias Arvola
Part of the Design Research Foundations book series (DERF)


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 the 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.


Design Goodness Varieties of goodness Values Design traditions Virtues 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aalto UniversityDenmarkUK
  2. 2.Linköping UniversitySwedenUK

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