Ethics aspects

From Securipedia
Jump to: navigation, search

" The field of ethics (or moral philosophy) involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behaviour."[1] An urban planning system that comprehensively gathers and considers security information is one that enables a society to address the causes of security problems, not just their symptoms, in order to address ethics issues in terms both of rights and of responsibilities that a planning system must be based on. However, decisions about how to configure and live within the built environment have ethics dimensions that are sometimes hard to see.[2]

Ethics of urban planning

Ethical pyramid Brucelius s.a.
  • It is the duty of planners to ensure that political goals for building development and the provision of public service are implemented without being influenced by pressure by special interests and by their superiors.
  • The primary obligation of urban planners is to serve the public interests and recognise the comprehensive and long-range nature of planning decisions.
  • Planners should avoid conflict of interests and not seek or offer other favours and benefits.
  • Respecting the professional code of ethics includes maintaining the public confidence through not using confidential information for financial gain.

The public interest is a question of continuous debate. Both in its general principles and in case-by-case applications, it requires a conscientiously held view of the policies and actions that best serve the entire community.

Ethics pyramid

The challenge to implement ethics aspects in security-related urban planning decisions is illustrated in the form of the “ethical planning pyramid” (Brucelius s.a.)[3].

Security-related aspects

"Generic" ethics aspects

In addressing of security issues, generic ethics aspects lead to questions such as the following:[4]

  • How was the project chosen?
  • Are the goals of the project worth reaching?
  • Are the means used to reach the goals of the project appropriate?
  • Does the project conflict with projects other individuals or groups are pursuing?
  • Is the project self-defeating?

Ethics dimensions of built environment

Decisions about how to configure and live within the built environment have ethics dimensions that are not always obvious. In order to provide practical guidance on ethics implications of metropolitan growth, questions relating to well-being, justice, sustainability and legitimacy should be considered.[5] Key questions of environmental ethics that bring in the most immediate concerns of ordinary people include the following:[6]

  • Is the selected place a good place to live? (Well-being)
  • Who gets to benefit from that place, and who does not? (Justice)
  • How long can the place last? (Sustainability)
  • Who should make decisions about the place? (Legitimacy)

Approaches to addressing ethics aspects in security-related urban planning

  • Address ethics aspects in an investigative way: Decisions about how to configure and live within the built environment have ethics dimensions that are sometimes hard to see.
  • Critically address planning requirements, including identified legal and culture aspects of security, in the light of ethics aspects: For example, security by design should be checked against risks of de-constructing security as a public good (such as common accessibility of public space, etc.).
  • Identify risks of reifying uneven distribution of security in society: Urban design addressing security aspects may unconsciously contribute to selective delivery of security, contributing to making secure or wealthy citizens more secure, and vulnerable or less prosperous citizens more vulnerable.
  • Actively contribute to limiting potential for abuse (e.g., criminal or terrorist) of sensitive planning information and data.
  • Involve citizens in planning decisions: This not only increases legitimacy of planning decisions, but it is also a requirement from basic principles such as ownership and community goals.
  • Consider the various situations, perceptions of (in)security and risks, needs as well as perspectives of men and women: Such consideration should inform all aspects of urban planning, which should actively identify and respond to gender-specific perceptions of security and needs for protective measures.

Practical checklists and methods

American Planning Association (APA) ethics principles

The American Planning Association (APA),[7] a not-for-profit educational organisation with various contributions in community planning, developed a guide to ethics conduct for all who participate in the process of planning as advisers, advocates and decision makers. The set of principles for all who participate in the process of planning accentuate the necessity for the highest standards of fairness and honesty among all participants and guide all who aspire to professionalism.

These ethics principles derive both from the general values of society and from the planner's special responsibility to serve the public interest. In order to faithfully serve the public interest, planning participants should have the following characteristics:[8]

  • Recognise the rights of citizens to participate in planning decisions;
  • Facilitate citizens involvement and active participation and full, clear and accurate information on planning issues;
  • Strive for fair, honest and independent judgement from decision makers and advisers;
  • Clarify community goals, objectives and policies in plan-making;
  • Protect the integrity of the natural environment and the heritage of the built environment;
  • Pay attention to the long range consequences of present actions;
  • Consider “personal interest” of all participants (citizens);
  • Abstain completely from decision maker’s personal interests, influencing gifts or favours;
  • Do not participate as an advisor or decision maker on any plan or project in which they have previously participated as an advocate and vice versa;
  • Serve as advocates only when the client's objectives are legal and consistent with the public interest;
  • Do not misuse confidential information and not misrepresent facts or distort information for the purpose of achieving a desired outcome;
  • Respect the rights of all persons (according to civil rights laws and regulations);
  • Consider gender perspectives, perceptions and needs.

Citizen participation and acceptance

There are different cultural approaches to decision making in urban planning, and citizen participation can be realised in several ways. Citizen involvement in urban planning processes contributes to increase security by:

  • Reducing inequality and social tension;
  • Incorporating the knowledge, productivity, social and physical capital of the poor in city development;
  • Increasing local ownership of development processes and programs.

Closer matching and balancing of planning with local needs by involving citizens and stakeholders enhances broader citizen acceptance of security decisions and the implementation of security technologies. Public acceptance is recognized as an important issue in security and urban planning policies and mirrors trust in political decisions and actors.

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme(UN-HABITAT)[9] Guide for Municipalities gives a resume of various types of citizen participation for use in urban planning consultation processes.

Further reading

  • C. D. Barrett: Everyday Ethics for Practising Planners. AICP: Washington, D.C., 2001.
  • E. Howe: The Nature of Ethical Issues. Acting on Ethics in Planning. Rutgers University Press: New Brunswick, 1994.
  • P. Marcuse: Professional Ethics and Beyond: Values in Planning. In: M. Wachs (ed): Ethics in Planning. Rutgers: Center for Urban Policy Research, 1985.

Footnotes and references

  1. Fieser J. (2009). Ethics, in: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy IEP. Retrieved from: http://www.iep.utm.edu/ethics</ref [last access: 2012-03-14].
  2. For overviews, see: Barrett C. D.: Everyday Ethics for Practicing Planners. Washington, DC: AICP, 2001; Howe E.: The Nature of Ethical Issues. Acting on Ethics in Planning. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1994; Marcuse P.: Professional Ethics and Beyond: Values in Planning, in: Wachs M.(ed): Ethics in Planning. Rutgers: Center for Urban Policy Research, 1985.
  3. Brucelius B. (s.a.): Ethical urban planning – Is there such a thing?, in: Sustainability. Journal from the Swedish Research Council FORMAS. Retrieved from http://sustainability.formas.se/en/Issues/Issue-3-October-2009/Content/Articles/Ethical-urban-planning--is-there-such-a-thing/ [last access: 2012-05-19].
  4. Kirkman R.: The Ethics of Metropolitan Growth. The Future of our Built Environment. Continuum: London, 2010. Retrieved from: http://www.continuumbooks.com/books/detail.aspx?BookId=134405&SubjectId=1020&Subject2Id=1387.
  5. Kirkman R.: The Ethics of Metropolitan Growth. The Future of our Built Environment. Continuum: London, 2010, 8. Retrieved from: http://www.continuumbooks.com/books/detail.aspx?BookId=134405&SubjectId=1020&Subject2Id=1387.
  6. Kirkman R.: The Ethics of Metropolitan Growth. The Future of our Built Environment. Continuum: London, 2010, 8. Retrieved from: http://www.continuumbooks.com/books/detail.aspx?BookId=134405&SubjectId=1020&Subject2Id=1387.
  7. http://www.planning.org.
  8. The American Planning Association: Ethical principles in planning. Retrieved from: http://www.planning.org/ethics/ethicalprinciples.htm.
  9. United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT): Human settlements in crisis. Inclusive and Sustainable Urban Planning: A Guide for Municipalities, vol. 1, 2007. An Introduction to Urban Strategic Planning.UNION Publication Service Section. Retrieved from: http://www.unhabitat.org/pmss/listItemDetails.aspx?publicationID=2662 [last access: 2011-11-01].