IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The Art of Moral Imagination: Ethics in the Practice of Architecture


  • Jane Collier



This paper addresses questions of ethics in the professional practice of architecture. It begins by discussing possible relationships between ethics and aesthetics. It then theorises ethics within concepts of ‘practice’, and argues for the importance of the context in architecture where narrative can be used to learn and to integrate past and present experience. Narrative reflection also takes in the future, and in the case of architecture there is a positive but not yet well accepted move (particularly within the ‘academy’) to realise the imperative nature of architecture’s responsibility with respect of global sustainability. Architects, more perhaps than other professions, use the faculty of imagination in their work, and this paper therefore maintains that architects as artists are uniquely qualified to exercise ‘moral imagination’ when it comes to situations where moral deliberation is needed. Pragmatism has given a new impetus to the importance of imagination in moral reflection, and I focus on John Dewey’s categories of ‘empathy’ and ‘dramatic rehearsal’ as descriptors of moral imagination as applied in situations. I argue in conclusion firstly that empathy between end-users and architects is an essential but not always realised part of morality in architecture, and secondly that ‘dramatic rehearsal’, when extended more widely that a given situation, may lead architects to question the social, political and ecological contexts of their work and thus motivate them to prioritise the ‘ethical’ in all the choices they make. Copyright Springer 2006

Suggested Citation

  • Jane Collier, 2006. "The Art of Moral Imagination: Ethics in the Practice of Architecture," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 66(2), pages 307-317, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:66:y:2006:i:2:p:307-317
    DOI: 10.1007/s10551-005-5600-4

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Donna Ladkin, 2018. "‘The Aesthetic’ and Its Relationship to Business Ethics: Philosophical Underpinnings and Implications for Future Research," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 147(1), pages 35-51, January.
    2. Brocklesby, John, 2009. "Ethics beyond the model: How social dynamics can interfere with ethical practice in operational research/management science," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 1073-1082, December.
    3. Nhung Nguyen & M. Basuray & William Smith & Donald Kopka & Donald McCulloh, 2008. "Moral Issues and Gender Differences in Ethical Judgment using Reidenbach and Robin’s (1990) Multidimensional Ethics Scale: Implications in Teaching of Business Ethics," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 77(4), pages 417-430, February.
    4. Matthew Cotton, 2013. "Deliberating Intergenerational Environmental Equity: A Pragmatic, Future Studies Approach," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 22(3), pages 317-337, June.
    5. Joonhyeong Joseph Kim & Insin Kim, 2018. "Moral Imagination, Parasocial Brand Love, and Customer Citizenship Behavior: Travelers’ Relationship with Sponsoring Airline Brands in the United States," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(12), pages 1-18, November.
    6. Christopher Michaelson, 2017. "Virtual Special Issue on Humanities and Business Ethics," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 142(3), pages 409-412, May.
    7. Esther Roca, 2010. "The Exercise of Moral Imagination in Stigmatized Work Groups," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 96(1), pages 135-147, September.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:66:y:2006:i:2:p:307-317. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.