Techno-moral scenario

Techno-ethical or techno-moral scenarios are, compared to socio-technical scenarios, mainly of normative nature and take into account the soft impacts of technological influences, such as relations, identities, and norms and values, that are less dominant in the other methods presented in this toolbox [1-3]. Morality is seen as norms and values of a specific community, as implicit beliefs, routines and practices which are considered natural, whereas ethics are reflections on the morality and debates on the relevance and status of this morality [2]. In techno-moral scenario theory the co-evolution of morality and technology plays an important role: norms and values can implement changes in norms and value while on the other hand the moral framework can also direct and change technological developments. Similar to socio-technical scenarios, techno-moral scenarios are built from past and current developments and pattern which are extrapolated and translated to future developments and changes in the technological and moral landscape.


In general, techno-moral scenarios can be used for policy makers to anticipate soft impacts of technological developments, but they can also be used as confrontation or provocation in workshops or public dialogues to stimulate discussion and trigger fictive thinking.


One example of a techno-moral scenario or vignette has been written by Tsjalling Swierstra (Maastricht University) and Marianne Boenink (University of Twente) and animated by Steven van Eekelen (Animono). The scenario describes the resurrection of extinct species by synthetic biology such as the Dodo. In this example, possible consequences of the resurrection of the Dodo are suggested, which are not directly obvious. This techno-moral vignette aims at stimulating discussion and at triggering a different thinking.

The movie of the complete vignette can be found at: More techno-moral scenarios from the field of synthetic biology can be found at:


1. Lucivero, F., T. Swierstra, and M. Boenink, Assessing Expectations: Towards a Toolbox for an Ethics of Emerging Technologies. Nanoethics, 2011. 5(2): p. 129-141.

2. Boenink, M., T. Swierstra, and D. Stemerding, Anticipating the Interaction between Technology and Morality: A Scenario Study of Experimenting with Humans in Bionanotechnology, in Studies in Ethics, Law, and Technology2010.

3. Swierstra, T. and A. Rip, Nano-ethics as NEST-ethics: Patterns of Moral Argumentation About New and Emerging Science and Technology. NanoEthics, 2007. 1(1): p. 3-20.

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