Ethical parallel research

The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research ‘s (NWO/STW) model of ethical parallel research in which ethical investigations are closely connected to programs of technological development is a source of inspiration for 4TU.Ethics. A main aim of the ethical parallel research is to uncover the ethical issues potentially raised by new technological developments. Such results will also be fed back to the technological researchers involved, for example by workshops and seminars.

This type of research has been financed by the NWO program “Ethiek, Onderzoek & Bestuur” (Ethics, Research and Public Policy) in the period 2003-2009. One of the four themes in this program was “Ethics of technological research”, under which four ethical parallel research project were financed. Three of these four projects have been executed by ethicists that are part of 4TU.Ethics (see below). The philosophy departments participating in 4TU.Ethics have thus gathered ample experience in carrying out such research during the last few years. In the coming years, special attention will be given to technologies developed at the other Centers of Excellence within the 4TU Federation.

Examples of previous ethical parallel research projects 4TU.Ethics

  1. Ethical aspects of the upscaling of an innovative waster water treatment technologyThis project aimed at answering the question: How can research choices regarding the transition from a lab-scale model to a full-size open biotechnological process plant be improved with regard to the acceptability of the risks and hazards resulting from the uncertainties and incompleteness of knowledge about the process to be upscaled?
  2. Medical Images in the Health Care Process
    Who should have access to enhanced medical images and their quantitative interpretations, why, where and when, on which conditions, and with which responsibilities? The researchproject has two deliverables: (i) a proposal for an ethically sound information architecture, and (ii) a methodological characterisation of how in general ethically sound information architectures should be developed.
  3. Normative implications of non-invasive instruments to analyze blood and tissue
    This research project aims at answering two questions: 1) What are the moral and social consequences of non-invasive measurement in human blood and tissue? 2) How can the awareness of the moral aspects of engineering design be enlarged, maintained and institutionalized?