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Philosophy - Epistemology & Philosophy of Science | Ethics and Technology Assessment: A Participatory Approach

Ethics and Technology Assessment: A Participatory Approach

Cotton, Matthew

2014, XII, 172 p. 8 illus.

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  • Addresses the theory, methods and practice of participatory technology assessment (pTA) in relation to large-scale technological and environmental policies and programs
  • Presents a practical and participatory decision procedure that facilitates the non-specialists' deliberations on the ethical aspects of controversial technologies
  • Develops and discusses an ethical decision-support procedure termed “Reflective Ethical Mapping” (REM), and evaluates it in a practical context: radioactive waste management in nuclear communities

Whether it is nuclear power, geo-engineering or genetically modified foods, the development of new technologies can be fraught with complex ethical challenges and political controversy which defy simple resolution. In the past two decades there has been a shift towards processes of Participatory Technology Assessment designed to build channels of two-way communication between technical specialists and non-expert citizens, and to incorporate multiple stakeholder perspectives in the governance of contentious technology programmes. This participatory turn has spurred a need for new tools and techniques to encourage group deliberation and capture public values, moral and choices.  This book specifically examines the ethical dimensions of controversial technologies, and discusses how these can be evaluated in a philosophically robust manner when the ones doing the deliberating are not ethicists, legal or technical experts. Grounded in philosophical pragmatism and drawing upon empirical work in partnership with citizen-stakeholders, this book presents a model called “Reflective Ethical Mapping” - a new meta-ethical framework and toolbox of techniques to facilitate citizen engagement with technology ethics.

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Decision support tools - Deliberative democracy - Participatory Technology Assessment (pTA) - Rawls’ concept of reflective equilibrium - Reflective Ethical Mapping (REM) - Risk of technology - Socially contentious technologies

Related subjects » Applied Ethics & Social Responsibility - Environmental / Development / Agricultural Economics - Epistemology & Philosophy of Science - Political Science - Production & Process Engineering

Table of contents 

Acknowledgements.- List of abbreviations.- Risk and public involvement in technology governance.- Ethics and technology.- Pragmatism, public deliberation and technology ethics.- Ethical tools.- Reflective Ethical Mapping.- Opening up ethical dialogue.- Judging and deciding.- Conclusions.

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