Anticipating the interaction of technology and morality

The aim of this closed seminar is to discuss the feasibility and desirability of techno-ethical scenarios to anticipate the mutual interaction of technology and morality.

Scenarios of socio-technological futures are by now a common tool to stimulate public and expert imagination and deliberation about plausible consequences of new and emerging technologies. Unfortunately, most scenario studies tend to treat moral beliefs as independent variables, as if these were immune to technological influences. Scenario studies thus fail to systematically explore the mutual and dynamic interaction of technology and morality, even though such an interaction is only to be expected because of the general co-evolution of technoscience and society.

This observation served as a starting point for a research project we have been conducting recently, funded by the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). The purpose of this project, entitled ‘Developing scenarios of moral controversies concerning new (biomedical) technologies’, was to develop a theoretical framework for the systematic exploration of future moral controversies pertaining to emerging biomedical technologies. This framework should enable users to anticipate potential moral controversies at an early stage of technology development. Moreover, in doing so it should do justice to the interaction of technological and moral development by treating both as mutually dependent variables.

In the course of the project we have developed such a framework, partly on the basis of historical studies of past controversies. This framework has subsequently been used to write several techno-ethical scenarios of emerging technologies.


Location: Drienerburght Hotel, University of Twente

Monday, August 25

9.00 Welcome with coffee

9.15 Dr. Tsjalling Swierstra

Introduction to the research project: anticipating the interaction of technology and morality

10.15 Dr. Margo Trappenburg & Drs.Hester van de Bovenkamp

Working with the methodology: examples from the project [1]

11.15 Coffee and tea break

11.30 Dr. Marianne Boenink & Dr Dirk Stemerding

Working with the methodology: examples from the project [2]

12.30 Lunch

13.30 Prof. dr. Armin Grunwald

Comments from the perspective of TA and ethics

14.30 Dr. Paul Martin

Comments from the perspective of science and technology studies

15.30 Coffee and tea break

16.00 Prof.dr.Rein de Wilde

Comments from the perspective of scenario studies

17.00 General discussion

17.30 Drinks

19.00 Dinner

Tuesday, August 26

9.00 Dr. Simone van der Burg

Practices and Scenarios: a neo-Aristotelian perspective

10.00 Dr. Mark Coeckelbergh

Comments from moral imagination

11.00 Coffee and tea break

11.15 Prof.dr.Wibren van der Burg

Comments from the perspective of ethics, dynamics, and moral change

12.15 Lunch

13.15 Prof.dr. Hub Zwart

Comments from the perspective of imagining of socio-technical futures

14.15 Dr. Elin Palm

Comments from the perspective of ethical TA

15.15 Tea/Coffee

15.30 Dr. Wybo Dondorp

Comments from (Ethics and) Health Policy

16.30 Conclusions

17.00 Drinks & farewell