Connecting the methods of psychology and philosophy: Applying Cognitive-Affective Maps (CAMs) to identify ethical principles underlying the evaluation of bioinspired technologies

Philosophical Psychology (forthcoming)
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One major challenge of the 21st century is the increasingly rapid development of new technologies and their evaluation. In this article we argue for an interdisciplinary approach to meet this demand for evaluating new and specifically bioinspired technologies. We combine the consideration of normative principles in the field of ethics with psychological-empirical research on attitudes. In doing so, the paper has a twofold concern: first, we discuss how such an interdisciplinary collaboration can be implemented by using the method of Cognitive-Affective Mapping. Cognitive-Affective Maps (CAMs) enable a graphical representation of attitudes, including cognitive and affective aspects. Second, we argue that CAMs can be helpful to remedy the deficits of traditional ethical approaches. We applied CAMs in the context of an ethics seminar in which students were instructed to create CAMs based on bioinspired technologies twice – prior to the seminar to assess their evaluation on bioinspired technologies per se (pre-assessment) and after the seminar to assess how their evaluation might have changed and especially which normative ethical principles might have been additionally considered (post-assessment). As could be shown, CAMs can visualize the students’ attitudes, including the valence of ethical principles. Further, comparing pre- and post-CAMs indicated students’ attitude change.



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Philipp Höfele
University of Freiburg

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