Workshop at the 4TU.Center for Ethics and Technology, Delft on “Health, technology, and moralization: How are technologies influencing the moralization of health?”

Health, technology, and moralization: How are technologies influencing the moralization of health?

 Date: 2.-3.12. 2016, Delft 


The moralization of health occurs when behaviors and decisions that were previously treated as matters of preference or luck come to be subject to moral evaluation, responsibility, and blame. Moralization can also occur when a new domain of health decision-making emerges with significant moral dimensions. Technology often plays an important role in moralization by providing patients and society with new levels of knowledge and control. For instance, new imaging technologies and genetic tests for prenatal screening supply previously unavailable information to parents, introducing new contexts of morally-freighted decisions. “Lifestyle” and tracking technologies give users a wealth of data about health metrics that can transform choices about diet, exercise, sleep, etc. into moral decisions. Related phenomena include ‘responsibilization’ and its reverse: assigning responsibility for health (and other outcomes) to individuals, reducing attribution of responsibility for decisions and behaviors, or changing the sorts of decisions one is expected to make. This intensive workshop will provide significant opportunities for interaction between participants. Invited speakers include Tamar Sharon (Maastricht), Kalle Grill (Umeå), Rebecca Brown (Aberdeen), Marcel Verweij (Wageningen) and Paula Boddington (Oxford).

The workshop will consider questions such as the following:

  • Which health-related behaviors and decisions are becoming moralized, and what role(s) are technologies playing in this process? In what areas of health and in which situations are technologies un-moralizing health decisions, e.g. by freeing people from the need to make decisions that were previously treated as moral, or by transforming our perception of conditions previously treated as character flaws?
  • How does moralization relate to responsibilization? Are there ways of moralizing that go beyond or move away from attributing responsibility to individuals?
  • What is the relationship between medicalization and moralization—how does seeing something primarily as a matter of health and disease invite or hinder moralization?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of moralization in different health domains? What effects is this likely to have on the way we conceive of individual and social responsibility, blame, autonomy, justice, and on views of the good life in both the public and the private sphere?

There are a few spots available for attendees. Please register with Dr. Saskia Nagel s.k.nagel@utwente.nl