Moral Responsibility, Technology, and Experiences of the Tragic: From Kierkegaard to Offshore Engineering
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Science and Engineering Ethics 18 (1):35-48 (2012)
The standard response to engineering disasters like the Deepwater Horizon case is to ascribe full moral responsibility to individuals and to collectives treated as individuals. However, this approach is inappropriate since concrete action and experience in engineering contexts seldom meets the criteria of our traditional moral theories. Technological action is often distributed rather than individual or collective, we lack full control of the technology and its consequences, and we lack knowledge and are uncertain about these consequences. In this paper, I analyse these problems by employing Kierkegaardian notions of tragedy and moral responsibility in order to account for experiences of the tragic in technological action. I argue that ascription of responsibility in engineering contexts should be sensitive to personal experiences of lack of control, uncertainty, role conflicts, social dependence, and tragic choice. I conclude that this does not justify evading individual and corporate responsibility, but inspires practices of responsibility ascription that are less ‘harsh’ on those directly involved in technological action, that listen to their personal experiences, and that encourage them to gain more knowledge about what they are doing.
|Keywords||info:mesh/Disasters info:mesh/Choice Behavior info:mesh/Social Behavior info:mesh/Engineering info:mesh/Uncertainty info:mesh/Humans Humans Uncertainty Social Behavior Professional Role Choice Behavior Disasters Engineering Technology Ethics, Business Moral Obligations Petroleum Pollution info:mesh/Professional Role info:mesh/Moral Obligations info:mesh/Petroleum Pollution info:mesh/Ethics, Business info:mesh/Technology|
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Citations of this work BETA
Merel Noorman (2014). Responsibility Practices and Unmanned Military Technologies. Science and Engineering Ethics 20 (3):809-826.
Neelke Doorn & Ibo van de Poel (2012). Editors' Overview: Moral Responsibility in Technology and Engineering. Science and Engineering Ethics 18 (1):1-11.
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