Science and Engineering Ethics 18 (1):69-90 (2012)

Authors
Neelke Doorn
Delft University of Technology
Abstract
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
Keywords Responsibility  Liability  Efficacy  Fairness  Informed consent  No harm principle  Technological risk  Engineering practice  Consequentialism
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DOI 10.1007/s11948-009-9189-3
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References found in this work BETA

After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory.Alasdair C. MacIntyre - 1983 - University of Notre Dame Press.
Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):5-20.

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Philosophy of Technology.Maarten Franssen - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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