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

Neelke Doorn
Delft University of Technology
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
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11948-009-9189-3
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 70,039
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - New York: Basic Books.
After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory.Alasdair C. MacIntyre - 1983 - University of Notre Dame Press.
Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.

View all 80 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

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

View all 18 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Philosophy of Technology and Macro-Ethics in Engineering.Wha-Chul Son - 2008 - Science and Engineering Ethics 14 (3):405-415.


Added to PP index

Total views
66 ( #173,474 of 2,505,677 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #209,579 of 2,505,677 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes