prof. dr. ir.Poel, I.R. van de (Ibo)

Delft University of Technology

Section: Philosophy
Faculty: Technology, Policy and Management

Visiting address

Jaffalaan 5 Room b4.210


+31 (0)15 27 84716


+31 (0)15 27 86233

Ibo van de Poel is Antoni van Leeuwenhoek professor at TU Delft; an exclusive professorship for excellent young researchers. He is an internationally leading scholar in Design for Values, responbility issues in engineering, and in technology as a form of social experimentation.

Van de Poel studied philosophy of science, technology and society, with a propaedeutic exam in mechanical engineering at the University of Twente. In 1998, he obtained his PhD in science and technology studies (STS) with a dissertation on the dynamics of technological development; his supervisor was prof. dr. A. Rip.

During the last few years, he has done research and published in the following areas: the dynamics of technological development, engineering ethics, the moral acceptability of technological risks, values and engineering design, moral responsibility in research networks, ethics of new emerging technologies like nanotechnology, technology as a form of social experimentation. He receives regularly invitations for international conferences and workshops and contributions to encyclopedias in these areas.

Since 1997, he is lecturing in ethics and technology for several engineering course programs at Delft University of Technology. He has been involved in several educational innovations in this area, including the development of the web-based computer program AGORA and the first Dutch textbook on ethics and technology.

He has written over 25 international peer reviewed articles and over 15 international book contributions. He is one of the associate editors of the Handbook of Philosophy of Technology and the Engineering Sciences (Elsevier, 2009, editor-in-chief: Anthonie Meijers), co-editor of Philosophy and Engineering (Springer, 2010 with David Goldberg) and co-author of Ethics, Engineering and Technology (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011, with Lamber Royakkers). He is also a co-editor of the new Springer book series in the Philosophy of Engineering and Technology (editor-in-chief: Pieter Vermaas).

Recently, he has received a VICI grant for his research proposal New Technologies as Social Experiments: Conditions for Morally Responsible Experimentation.

CV Ibo van de Poel

Brief summary of research over last 5 years

In the last 5 years, Van de Poel’s research has focused on three major themes in the philosophy and ethics of technology. A first theme is the role of (moral) values in engineering design and the notion of Design for Values. In particular, Van de Poel has investigated approaches for dealing with conflicting values in engineering design. He also did empirical studies how engineers deal with values in design, and supervised PhD projects on this issue. This line of research has resulted in several publications and, during his stay at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS) in the academic year 2010-2011, he has worked on a book on the issue. Additionaly, he is co-editor of international handbook on Design for Values (forthcoming).

A second theme is moral responsibility in Research & Development (R&D) networks. Van de Poel was project leader of a NWO project on this topic (2007 – 2012), which builds on his earlier NWO project which studied ethical issues in parallel to a real R&D project (2005 – 2007). The project focused on the problem of many hands: if a large number of people are involved in an activity it is often difficult to pinpoint who is morally responsible for what. The project has resulted in the conceptualization of notions of responsibility and the problem of many hands; it has also developed formalisations for these notions and has empirically investigated the problem of many hands in R&D networks. To enable the empirical research, a method for the application of the wide reflective equilibrium approach to ethical issues in R&D networks has been developed. This line of research has resulted in several publications; two further co-edited volumes, one on moral responsibility and one on approaches to ethics in R&D, are still in the making as is as a co-authored monograph on moral responsibility in R&D.

A third theme is ethical issues raised by new and emerging technology. Van de Poel has acquired an EU project on ethical issues in synthetic biology (2009 – 2011). He has also published several articles on ethical issues in nanotechnology and has developed the theme of technology as social experimentation. This has been consolidated in his current VICI project on ‘New technologies as social experiments. This project deals with the challenge that many of the conventional approaches to risk governance are not directly applicable to emerging technologies like nano- and biotechnology due to high levels of uncertainty and ignorance about potential hazards. To overcome this problem, his VICI project conceptualizes technology as a form of social experimentation and investigates the conditions under which such social experiments are morally acceptable.

Scientific publications (selection)


  • Taebi, B. and I. R. Van de Poel, eds. Forthcoming. Socio-technical challenges of nuclear power production and waste disposal in the post-Fukushima Era. Special Issue of Journal of Risk Research.
  • Van de Poel, Ibo, Lamber Royakkers, and Sjoerd D. Zwart. forthcoming. Moral Responsibility and the Problem of Many Hands. Routledge. available online
  • Van de Poel, Ibo. forthcoming. Dealing with moral dilemmas through design. In The Design Turn in Applied Ethics, eds. Jeroen Van den Hoven, Seumas Miller and Thomas Pogge. Cambridge: Cambridge Univeristy Press. available online
  • Van de Poel, Ibo. forthcoming. Design for sustainability. In Technology and the Environment, eds. Philip Brey, David M. Kaplan and J. Baird Callicott. Cambridge (Ma.): MIT Press. available online
  • Van de Poel, Ibo. forthcoming. Morally experimenting with nuclear energy. In The Ethics of Nuclear Energy: Risk, Justice and Democracy in a post-Fukushima Era, eds. Behnam Taebi and Sabine Roeser. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. available online
  • Van de Poel, Ibo. forthcoming. Society as a laboratory to experiment with new technologies. In Embedding and Governing New Technologies, eds. Elen Stokes, Diana Bowman and Arie Rip. Singapore: Pan Stanford Publishing. available online
  • van den Hoven, Jeroen, Ibo Van de Poel, and Pieter E. Vermaas, eds. forthcoming. Handbook of ethics and values in technological design. Springer. available online


  • Jacobs, J. F., I. Van de Poel, and P. Osseweijer. 2014. Clarifying the debate on selection methods for engineering: Arrow's impossibility theorem, design performances, and information basis. Research in Engineering Design 25: 3-10. available online
  • Van de Poel, Ibo, and Peter Kroes. 2014. Can technology embody values? In The moral status of technical artefacts, eds. Peter Kroes and Peter-Paul Verbeek, 103-124. Dordrecht: Springer. available online
  • Van de Poel, Ibo. 2014. Translating values into design requirements. In Philosophy and Engineering: Reflections on Practice, Principles and Process, eds. D. Mitchfelder, N. McCarty and D.E. Goldberg, 253-266. Dordrecht: Springer. available online


  • Doorn, N., D. Schuurbiers, I.R. Van de Poel, M.E. Gorman (Eds) 2013. Early Engagement and New Technologies: Opening Up the Laboratory. Dordrecht, Springer. available online
  • van de Poel, Ibo. 2013. Why New Technologies Should Be Conceived as Social Experiments. Ethics, Policy & Environment 16 (3): 352-55. available online
  • Zwart, Sjoerd D., Johannes Jacobs, and Ibo van de Poel. 2013. Values in engineering models: social ramifications of modeling in engineering design. Engineering Studies 5: 93-116. available online


  • Doorn, N., and I.R. Van de Poel. 2012. "Editors' overview: Moral responsibility in technology and engineering" Science and Engineering Ethics 18: 1-11. available online
  • Nihlen Fahlquist J. and I. van de Poel 2012. Technology and Parental Responsibility: The Case of the V-chip". Science and Engineering Ethics, online first, DOI 10.1007/s11948-010-9222-6. available online
  • Taebi, B., S. Roeser and I. Van de Poel. 2012. The ethics of nuclear power: social experiments, intergenerational justice, and emotions. Energy Policy (51): 202-206. available online
  • Van de Poel, Ibo (2012). Can we design for well-being? In The Good Life in a Technological Age. P. Brey, A. Briggle and E. Spence. Routledge: 295-306. available online
  • Van de Poel, Ibo and Jessica Nihlen-Fahlquist. (2012). Risk and responsibility. In Handbook of Risk Theory, S. Roeser, R. Hillerbrand, M. Peterson and P. Sandin. Dordrecht: Springer: 877-907. available online
  • van de Poel, Ibo, Jessica Nihlen Fahlquist, Neelke Doorn, Sjoerd Zwart, and Lamber Royakkers. 2012. The Problem of Many Hands: Climate Change as an Example. Science and Engineering Ethics 18: 49-67. available online
  • Van den Hoven, Jeroen, Gert-Jan Lokhorst, and Ibo Van de Poel. (2012) Engineering and the Problem of Moral Overload. Science and Engineering Ethics 18(1), 143-155. available online


  • van de Poel, Ibo (2011). Nuclear energy as social experiment. Ethics, Policy and Environment 14(3): 285-290. available online
  • Van de Poel, Ibo, and Lamber Royakkers. 2011. Ethics, technology and engineering. Wiley-Blackwell. available online
  • Vermaas, Pieter, Peter Kroes, Ibo van de Poel, Maarten Franssen, and Wybo Houkes. 2011. A Philosophy of Technology: From Technical Artefacts to Sociotechnical Systems. Synthesis Lectures on Engineers, Technology and Society 6 (1):1-134. available online
  • Vincent, N, van de Poel & van den Hoven (eds) (2011) Moral Responsibility: Beyond Free Will and Determinism, Springer. available online


  • Jacobs, Johannes. F., Ibo Van de Poel, and Patrica Osseweijer. 2010. Sunscreens with titanium dioxide (TiO2) nano-particles. A societal experiment. Nanoethics 4:103-113. available online
  • Van de Poel, Ibo, and David E. Goldberg, eds. 2010. Philosophy and engineering. An emerging agenda Dordrecht: Springer. available online
  • van de Poel, Ibo, and Sjoerd D. Zwart. 2010. Reflective Equilibrium in R&D Networks. Science, Technology & Human Values 35 (2):174-199. available online


  • Franssen, Maarten, Gert-Jan Lokhorst and Ibo van de Poel. 2009. "Philosophy of Technology", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Edward N. Zalta (ed.) available online
  • Kroes, Peter, and Ibo Van de Poel. 2009. Problematizing the notion of social context of technology. In Engineering in context, edited by S. Hylgaard Christensen, B. Delahousse and M. Meganck. Aarhuus: Academia.
  • Van de Poel, Ibo. 2009. The introduction of nanotechnology as a societal experiment. In Technoscience in progress. Managing the uncertainty of nanotechnology, edited by S. Arnaldi, A. Lorenzet and F. Russo. Amsterdam: IOS Press. available online
  • Van de Poel, Ibo. 2009. Values in engineering design. In Handbook of the philosophy of science. Volume 9: Philosophy of technology and engineering sciences, edited by A. Meijers. Oxford: Elsevier. available online


  • Gorp, A.C. van, and IR van de Poel. 2008. Deciding on ethical issues in engineering design. In Philosophy and design: from engineering to architecture edited by P. Vermaas, A. L. PA Kroes and S. Moore. New York: Springer available online
  • Lloyd, Peter, and Ibo van de Poel. 2008. "Designing Games to Teach Ethics". Science and Engineering Ethics 14(3):433-447. available online
  • Poel, IR van de 2008. How should we do nanoethics? A network approach for discerning ethical issues in nanotechnology. Nanoethics: ethics for technologies that converge at the nanoscale 2 (1):25-38. available online
  • Poel, IR van de. 2008. The bugs eat the waste: what else is there to know? Changing professional hegemony in the design of sewage treatment plants. Social studies of science 38 (4):605-634. available online


  • van de Poel, I.R. 2007. Methodological Problems in QFD and Directions for Future Development. Research in Engineering Design 18:21-36. available online
  • van de Poel, Ibo, and Lamber Royakkers. 2007. The Ethical Cycle. Journal of Business Ethics 71 (1):1-13. available online
  • van de Poel, Ibo. 2007. Ethics in Engineering Practice. In Philosophy in Engineering, edited by S. Hylgaard Christensen, M. Meganck and B. Delahousse. Aarhuus: Academica.


  • Kroes, P.A., M.P.M. Franssen, I.R. van de Poel, and M.M. Ottens. 2006. Treating Socio-Technical Systems as Engineering Systems: Some Conceptual Problems. Systems Research and Behavioral Science 23 (6):803-814. available online
  • Ottens, Maarten, Maarten Franssen, Peter Kroes, and Ibo van de Poel. 2006. Modelling Infrastructures as Socio-Technical Systems. International Journal of Critical Infrastructures 2 (2-3):133 - 145 available online
  • van de Poel, I.R., and P.P. Verbeek. 2006. Editorial: Ethics and Engineering Design. Science, Technology & Human Values 31:223-236. available online
  • van de Poel, Ibo, and Anke van Gorp. 2006. The Need for Ethical Reflection in Engineering Design the Relevance of Type of Design and Design Hierarchy. Science, Technology & Human Values 31 (3):333-360. available online
  • van de Poel, Ibo, and Peter Kroes. 2006. Technology and Normativity. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology, Fall 2006, 10 (1):1-6. available online
  • Zwart, Sjoerd D., Ibo van de Poel, Harald van Mil, and Michiel Brumsen. 2006. A Network Approach for Distinguishing Ethical Issues in Research and Development. Science and Engineering Ethics 12 (4):663-684. available online


  • Devon, Richard, and Ibo Van de Poel 2004. Design Ethics: The Social Ethics Paradigm. International Journal of Engineering Education 20(3): 461-469. available online
  • van de Poel, I.R., S.D. Zwart, M. Brumsen, and H.G.J. van Mil. 2005. Risks of Aerobic Granular Sludge Technology. Ethical and Methodological Aspects. In Aerobic Granular Sludge, edited by S. Bathe, M. K. de Kreuk, B. S. Mc Swain and N. Schwarzenbeck. London: IWA Publishing. available online
  • van de Poel, Ibo. 2005. Engineering Design Ethics. In Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics, edited by C. Mitcham. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA.
  • van der Burg, Simone, and I.R. van de Poel. 2005. Teaching Ethics and Technology with Agora, an Electronic Tool. Science and Engineering Ethics 11 (2):277-297. available online


  • Van de Poel, I.R. 2003. The Transformation of Technological Regimes. Research Policy 32(1): 49-68. available online


  • Van de Poel, I. 2001. Investigating Ethical Issues in Engineering Design. Science and Engineering Ethics 7(3): 429-446. available online
  • Van Gorp, Anke and Ibo van de Poel. 2001. Ethical Considerations in Engineering Design Processes. IEEE Technology and Society Magazine 20(3): 15-22. available online


  • van de Poel, Ibo. 2000. On the Role of Outsiders in Technical Development. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management 12: 383-397. available online
  • Zandvoort, H., Van de Poel, I.R. & Brumsen, M. 2000. Ethics in the engineering curricula: topics, trends and challenges for the future. European Journal of Engineering Education 25 (4):291-302. available online


  • van de Poel, Ibo. 1998. Changing Technologies. A Comparative Study of Eight Processes of Transformation Of Technological Regimes. Dissertation University of Twente, Enschede.

Professional/Popular publications (selection)


  • Van de Poel, Ibo, and Shannon Spruit. 2013. Experimenteren Met Nanodeeltjes in De Maatschappij. Tijdschrift Milieu, 2: 32-35. available online
  • Van de Poel, Ibo. 2013. Experimenteer (Met Schaliegas)!. In: Jos Baijen (red.) Het beste idee van 2013. Uitgeverij De wereld: 156-157. available online


  • Van de Poel, Ibo. 2010. Ethiek van de techniek. In Ethiek in Nederland van 1970 tot 2010 en daarna edited by B. Musschenga, T. v. d. Beld, G. d. Hartogh, F. Jacobs, M. Schermer and J. Kole. Budel: Damon.


  • Bolkestein, Frits, Jeroen Van den Hoven, Ibo Van de Poel, and Ilse Oosterlaken, eds. 2009. De politiek der dingen. De verwevenheid van ethiek en technologie Budel: Damon.
  • Vermaas, Pieter, Peter Kroes, Ibo Van de Poel, Maarten Franssen, en Wybo Houkes. 2009. Kernthema's in de technische wetenschap. Boom. available online


  • van de Poel, I.R. 2007. De Vermeende Neutraliteit van Techniek: De Professionele Idealen van Ingenieurs. In Werkzame Idealen: Ethische Reflecties Op Professionaliteit, edited by J. Kole and D. de Ruyter. Assen: Van Gorcum. available online


  • van de Poel, I.R. 2006. Kan Quality Function Deployment (Qfd) Bijdragen aan Meer Verantwoorde Productontwikkeling. Filosofie 16 (4):40-44.
  • van Mil, Harald, Ibo van de Poel, and Sjoerd Zwart. 2006. Ethiek in de Afvalwaterzuivering. H2O: Tijdschrift voor Watervoorziening en Waterbeheer, 39 (4):22-24. available online


  • Royakkers, L., I. van de Poel en A. Pieters 2004. Ethiek & Techniek. Morele overwegingen in de ingenieurspraktijk. Baarn, HBuitgevers. available online