We identify a dilemma currently faced by designers and design researchers concerning how best to use the influential nature of design to change people's behavior in a way that benefits society. This dilemma exists because, even though designers can create products that can exercise control over individual freedom, such products are made necessary because people seem resistant to sacrifice their freedom for the good of society. Various approaches have arisen to respond to this dilemma—ranging from the technocratic to the democratic with “libertarian paternalism” somewhere in between—but we have found that they all share a paternalistic way of treating individual freedom as a “barrier” to be overcome to achieve social goals, such as sustainability, crime reduction, public health, and social justice. Instead of tackling this issue head-on, this interdisciplinary work challenges this dilemma and, drawing from the ethics of Simone de Beauvoir, argues that freedom is not merely a value to be weighed against other values in design practices but is instead the basis of all moral values.

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