Inescapable Frameworks: Ethics of Care, Ethics of Rights and the Responsible Research and Innovation Model

Philosophy of Management 19 (3):237-265 (2020)
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Abstract

Notwithstanding the EU endorsement, so far Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) is discussed as regards its definition, its features and its conceptual core: innovation and responsibility. This conceptual indeterminacy is a source of disagreements at the political level, giving rise to a plurality of outcomes and versions upheld within the same model of governance. Following a Charles Taylor’s suggestion, this conceptual opening of the RRI model can be explained by the existence of plural, clashing moral frameworks: discourse ethics, Aristotelian ethics, care ethics, dignitarian ethics, rights-based moralities etc. Given the diffusion in the RRI literature of references to care ethics and its justification of participation and responsibility, I will compare the conceptual premises of this philosophical line with those of ethics of rights, which have been criticised by advocates of care ethics. I will argue that public engagement based on only needs cannot lead to responsible outcomes since it produces however the exclusion of some needs, covered instead by rights. In order for participation to be effective, rights or an alliance between the two perspectives is required.

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