Ethics on the laboratory floor; Explorations for a methodology

These last years there has been a growing interest in the engagement of ethicists in the context of scientific engineering research, with the aim to anticipate the ambiguous impacts that technological innovations have on the quality of human life. In this way ethicists are thought to be able to contribute to the constitution of the technological product, at a stage when it is still malleable.

Several scholars have developed views on how an ethicist in this context should work, but there is not yet a detailed ‘method’. With this workshop we want to contribute to the development of such a method. We want to focus especially on the themes of reflection and deliberation, for the enhancement of ‘reflection’ and the broadening of ‘deliberation’ is often understood to be the primary aim of the work of an ethicist in the scientific research context. Yet it remains unclear what this involves. Questions are raised such as: what is reflection/deliberation? How should ethicists enhance reflection? What are the consequences of such an enhancement of reflection on the deliberation about research choices? How much should this deliberation be broadened? And what is the specific input of an ethicist in this deliberation?

This workshop aims to act as a platform to discuss and critically engage with these questions. Confirmed invited participants are Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent, Rosalyn Berne, Ulrike
Felt, Armin Grunwald, Alfred Nordmann
and Arie Rip.

We invite abstracts (500-1000 words) from philosophers and social scientists. Theoretical philosophical papers about deliberation, reflection and moral linguistics are welcome, but also
descriptions and analyses of concrete joint deliberation processes on the laboratory floor about ethical issues. Sub-themes are:

  • Reflection/deliberation
  • Future scenarios
  • Ethical language and communication
  • The institutional context

For more information about these sub-themes and related questions, please look at the workshop website

The deadline for submission is March 1, 2010. The authors of selected papers will be notified by email. Abstracts should be sent to:

For further information, please contact one of the organizers:

Simone van der Burg:
Federica Lucivero:
Lotte Krabbenborg:
Dirk Haen: