Peter G. Brown and Jeremy J. Smith (eds): Water Ethics: Foundational Readings for Students and Professionals Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-3 DOI 10.1007/s10806-011-9310-x Authors Neelke Doorn, Department of Technology Policy and Management, Section of Philosophy, 3TU. Centre of Ethics and Technology/Delft University of Technology, PO Box 5015, 2600 GA Delft, The Netherlands Journal Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics Online ISSN 1573-322X Print ISSN 1187-7863.
Soft regulatory measures are often promoted as an alternative for existing regulatory regimes for nanotechnologies. The call for new regulatory approaches stems from several challenges that traditional approaches have difficulties dealing with. These challenges relate to general problems of governability, tensions between public interests, but also (and maybe particularly) to almost complete lack of certainty about the implications of nanotechnologies. At the same time, the field of nanotechnology can be characterized by a high level of diversity. In this paper, we (...) discuss and compare two models for framing public policy in relation to technology regulation: the first is a deliberative model based on foresight knowledge and the second the wide reflective equilibrium model, developed by political philosopher John Rawls. In both models, the aim is to find consensus on (a framework for) policy measures and regulation. On the basis of a critical discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of both models, some tentative conclusions are drawn for effective policy making and implementation based on soft law. (shrink)
In this paper, we discuss the use of role plays in ethics education for engineering students. After presenting a rough taxonomy of different objectives, we illustrate how role plays can be used to broaden students’ perspectives. We do this on the basis of our experiences with a newly developed role play about a Dutch political controversy concerning pig transport. The role play is special in that the discussion is about setting up an institutional framework for responsible action that goes beyond (...) individual action. In that sense, the role play serves a double purpose. It not only aims at teaching students to become aware of the different dimensions in decision making, it also encourages students to think about what such an institutional framework for responsible action might possibly look like. (shrink)
In the last decades increasing attention is paid to the topic of responsibility in technology development and engineering. The discussion of this topic is often guided by questions related to liability and blameworthiness. Recent discussions in engineering ethics call for a reconsideration of the traditional quest for responsibility. Rather than on alleged wrongdoing and blaming, the focus should shift to more socially responsible engineering, some authors argue. The present paper aims at exploring the different approaches to responsibility in order to (...) see which one is most appropriate to apply to engineering and technology development. Using the example of the development of a new sewage water treatment technology, the paper shows how different approaches for ascribing responsibilities have different implications for engineering practice in general, and R&D or technological design in particular. It was found that there was a tension between the demands that follow from these different approaches, most notably between efficacy and fairness. Although the consequentialist approach with its efficacy criterion turned out to be most powerful, it was also shown that the fairness of responsibility ascriptions should somehow be taken into account. It is proposed to look for alternative, more procedural ways to approach the fairness of responsibility ascriptions. (shrink)
Editors’ Overview: Moral Responsibility in Technology and Engineering Content Type Journal Article Category Original Paper Pages 1-11 DOI 10.1007/s11948-011-9285-z Authors Neelke Doorn, Department of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, P.O. Box 5015, 2600 GA Delft, The Netherlands Ibo van de Poel, Department of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, P.O. Box 5015, 2600 GA Delft, The Netherlands Journal Science and Engineering Ethics Online ISSN 1471-5546 Print ISSN 1353-3452 Journal Volume Volume 18 Journal Issue Volume 18, (...) Number 1. (shrink)
In some situations in which undesirable collective effects occur, it is very hard, if not impossible, to hold any individual reasonably responsible. Such a situation may be referred to as the problem of many hands. In this paper we investigate how the problem of many hands can best be understood and why, and when, it exactly constitutes a problem. After analyzing climate change as an example, we propose to define the problem of many hands as the occurrence of a gap (...) in the distribution of responsibility that may be considered morally problematic. Whether a gap is morally problematic, we suggest, depends on the reasons why responsibility is distributed. This, in turn, depends, at least in part, on the sense of responsibility employed, a main distinction being that between backward-looking and forward-looking responsibility. (shrink)
I am very grateful to Toby Williamson and Ajit Shah for their insightful commentaries on my paper on mental competence. By linking their commentaries to the Mental Capacity Act of 2005, they both reflect a strong embeddedness in clinical practice, which I very much appreciate. Both authors seem, more or less, to agree on the need for an anthropological conceptualization of mental competence beyond a rather “mechanistic decision-making ability.” However, they do disagree on the pace (Williamson) and direction (Shah) of (...) my approach. I, therefore, use this opportunity to clarify some issues that were raised by my approach to mental competence, rather than discussing again the need for an anthropological approach. .. (shrink)
The use of coercive measures in mental health care is an issue of ongoing concern (Cf. Fisher 1994; Janssen et al. 2008; Paterson and Duxbury 2007; Prinsen and Van Delden 2009; Widdershoven and Berghmans 2007; Wynn 2006). On the one hand, coercive interventions seem to infringe the patient’s right to self-determination (principle of autonomy). However, professionals are also committed to providing the care they deem necessary (principle of beneficence). In other words, professionals in mental health care are often caught between (...) the two (opposing) ideals of beneficence and autonomy. In medical practice, the right of self-determination is operationalized in the principle of informed consent. A medical physician is .. (shrink)
Should Probabilistic Design Replace Safety Factors? Content Type Journal Article Pages 151-168 DOI 10.1007/s13347-010-0003-6 Authors Neelke Doorn, Department of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, PO Box 5015, 2600 GA Delft, The Netherlands Sven Ove Hansson, Department of Philosophy and the History of Technology, Royal Institute of Technology, Teknikringen 78 B, 100 44 Stockholm, Sweden Journal Philosophy & Technology Online ISSN 2210-5441 Print ISSN 2210-5433 Journal Volume Volume 24 Journal Issue Volume 24, Number 2.
In professional settings, people often have diverse and competing conceptions of responsibility and of when it is fair to hold someone responsible. This may lead to undesirable gaps in the distribution of responsibilities. In this paper, a procedural model is developed for alleviating the tension between diverging responsibility conceptions. The model is based on the Rawlsian approach of wide reflective equilibrium and overlapping consensus. The model is applied to a technological project, which concerned the development of an in-house monitoring system (...) based on ambient technology. The development of this innovative technology raised questions among the technological researchers about its social acceptance and the way issues related to privacy and security should be addressed. The case is analyzed in terms of two procedural norms (reflective learning and inclusiveness), which are based on literature on policy and innovation networks. Analysis of the case shows that, in a pluralist setting, a procedural approach can be useful for encouraging discussion on the legitimacy of different responsibility conceptions and the question what a fair responsibility distribution amounts to. (shrink)
Insights from social science are increasingly used in the field of applied ethics. However, recent insights have shown that the empirical branch of business ethics lacks thorough theoretical grounding. This article discusses the use of the Rawlsian methods of wide reflective equilibrium and overlapping consensus in the field of applied ethics. Instead of focussing on one single comprehensive ethical doctrine to provide adequate guidance for resolving moral dilemmas, these Rawlsian methods seek to find a balance between considered judgments and intuitions (...) concerning particular cases on the one hand and general principles and theories on the other. In business ethics this approach is promissing because it enables decision-making in a pluralist context with different stakeholders who often endorse different or even conflicting cultural and moral frameworks without giving priority to any of them. Moreover, the method is well founded in political theory. A taxonomy of different kinds of applications is developed, and classified according to the purpose, the content, and the type of justification. On the basis of this taxonomy an inventory of 12 recent applications is made. In terms of the purpose and content of the method the applications are rather diverse. Two conceptual obstacles for applying Rawlsian methods are identified, viz. inclusiveness and the communitarian objection that people have to become detached from their personal life. It is found that methodological questions, such as the question how to retrieve the relevant empirical data, are scarcely addressed in the literature. To advance the use of empirical approaches in general, and that of Rawlsian approaches in particular, it is important not only to use empirical data but to use methodological insights from social sciences in order to further advance the field of empirical ethics. It is recommended that stakeholders be given a more active role in the assessment and justification of these methods. (shrink)
Due to their non-hierarchical structure, socio-technical networks are prone to the occurrence of the problem of many hands. In the present paper an approach is introduced in which people’s opinions on responsibility are empirically traced. The approach is based on the Rawlsian concept of Wide Reflective Equilibrium (WRE) in which people’s considered judgments on a case are reflectively weighed against moral principles and background theories, ideally leading to a state of equilibrium. Application of the method to a hypothetical case with (...) an artificially constructed network showed that it is possible to uncover the relevant data to assess a consensus amongst people in terms of their individual WRE. It appeared that the moral background theories people endorse are not predictive for their actual distribution of responsibilities but that they indicate ways of reasoning and justifying outcomes. Two ways of ascribing responsibilities were discerned, corresponding to two requirements of a desirable responsibility distribution: fairness and completeness. Applying the method triggered learning effects, both with regard to conceptual clarification and moral considerations, and in the sense that it led to some convergence of opinions. It is recommended to apply the method to a real engineering case in order to see whether this approach leads to an overlapping consensus on a responsibility distribution which is justifiable to all and in which no responsibilities are left unfulfilled, therewith trying to contribute to the solution of the problem of many hands. (shrink)