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Social Sciences - Applied Ethics & Social Responsibility | Evaluating New Technologies - Methodological Problems for the Ethical Assessment of Technology

Evaluating New Technologies

Methodological Problems for the Ethical Assessment of Technology Developments.

Sollie, Paul, Düwell, Marcus (Eds.)

2009, VIII, 205 p.

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  • Takes a proactive attitude towards dealing with complex new technology developments
  • Focuses on uncertainty in ethics and technology, which is, contrary to the concept of risk, highly underappreciated in this field
  • Offers different methodological approaches to dealing with uncertainty

In this forward-looking volume the invited authors argue that the world must critically assess the potential pitfalls of new technologies in advance.

Many of the developments in modern technology are complex, risky, and, to begin with, cloaked in uncertainty. How should we deal with such developments – that may not only have positive effects (such as an increase of our well-being or an improved ability to control and cure diseases) but also negative effects for human beings and the environment (such as global warming or the medicalisation of human beings)?

The fact that technological ‘progress’ often occurs under conditions of uncertainty makes the issue even more pressing. Frequently, we are completely devoid of information concerning the applications of new technologies and what their impact will be on human beings and the environment. History has shown that taking a retrospective perspective by passively awaiting the practical consequences of new technologies is both dangerous and inappropriate, as often damage will already have occurred. The genie is well and truly out of the bottle and those who once had control over the new processes no longer have that power, as the science will have a momentum of its own, unheeding of belated attempts to stop it or slow it down. What is more, technology is often ‘logically malleable’, with far wider applications than even we can anticipate.

Thus, say editors Sollie and Düwell, an anticipatory attitude is required towards dealing with new technology. This book addresses methodological issues with regard to the ethical evaluation of new and emerging technology. It focuses specifically on the concept of uncertainty that, unlike the notion of risk, is greatly undervalued in the field of ethics. It is a must-read for anyone involved in (ethical) technology assessment: philosophers, those involved in science and technology studies, and policy-makers alike.

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Ethical Technology Assessment - Ethical Theory - Precaution and precautionary principle - Technology Development - Uncertainty - ethics - morality - technology

Related subjects » Applied Ethics & Social Responsibility - Epistemology & Philosophy of Science

Table of contents 

Evaluating New Technologies. An Introduction by P. Sollie & M. Düwell Part I - A Case Study: Utrafast Communication.- Ethical Aspects of Research in Ultrafast Communication by A. Driessen.- Whose Responsibility is it Anyway? Dealing with the Consequences of New Technologies by A. Vedder & B. Custers.- Ethics in and during Technological Research; an Addition to ICT Ethics and Science Ethics by A. van Gorp.- The need for a Value-Sensitive Design of communication infrastructures by N. Manders-Huits & J. van den Hoven.- Part II – Evaluating New Technologies: Methodological Issues.- The Moral Relevance of Technological Artifacts. Or: On Making Things Better by P.-P. Verbeek.- Interdisciplinarity, Applied Ethics and Social Science by N. Nijsingh & M. Düwell.- Facts or Fiction? A Critique on Vision Assessment as Tool for Technology Assessment by N. Karafyllis.- Exploring techno-moral change. The Case of the ObesityPill by T. Swierstra, D. Stemerding & M. Boenink.- Part III – Evaluating New Technologies: Uncertainty and Precaution.- On Uncertainty in Ethics and Technology by P. Sollie.- New Technologies, Common Sense and the Paradoxical Precautionary Principle by S. Clarke.- Complex Technology, Complex Calculations: Uses and Abuses of Precautionary Reasoning in Law by D. Beyleveld & R. Brownsword.- Ethics of Technology at the Frontier of Uncertainty. A Gewirthian Perspective by P. Sollie

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