LC6 Good Technology for Users and Society
September 5 - October 24
This course will ask what good technology is, and will consider various ways of assessing, guiding and improving the moral and nonmoral goodness of technology. We will have a particular emphasis on theories of wellbeing and the good society that define individual and social notions of goodness. Different theories of wellbeing (e.g. objectivist, desire satisfaction, mental state) will be discussed and compared, as well as different theories of what constitutes a good society. We will then consider what these theories mean for technological design and technology development.
We will also investigate the positive and negative roles of so-called socially disruptive technologies that transform society, culture, and the environment. This will be done in connection to the seven-university, ten-year research programme Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies (https://www.esdit.nl/). We will pay special attention to the transformative role of such technologies with respect to the basic concepts that we use to understand and evaluate reality.
Next, we will consider non-Western perspectives on the goodness of technology, by considering non-Western and intercultural ethics and philosophy. We will also examine the call for, and challenges of, global ethics in three broad areas. First, we will examine arguments concerning relativism and the extent to which ethical values may appropriately be differently expressed. Second, we will explore to what extent our global ethics should be responsive to demands of pluralistic ethics and normatively significant belief systems, especially when considering the design of technologies and institutions that operate at a global level. Finally, we will look at questions of when an individual is morally responsible for the actions of autonomous systems.
Teaching will be centered on a series of lectures delivered to students, together with discussion and in-class assignments, but the bulk of the learning will occur in the students’ own time as they research the different areas using recommended readings and following their own research interests. This will be supplemented by assessed presentations given by the students regarding a final paper to be delivered at the end of the course. Help will be offered for both of these assignments through one-on-one meetings with the course professors.
The research skills component in this course encompasses the following:
• Critical writing skills
• Critical analysis of texts
Therefore students will:
• acquire specialist knowledge of ethics of technology,
• develop original scientific research in the field of ethics of technology,
• compare different paradigms in sub-domain of ethics of technology, including critical analysis,
• generate philosophical research results that are relevant for scientific, technological and/or social practices,
• communicate research results and solutions to colleagues.
Students will develop these skills:
• through reading, lectures, and discussion with professors regarding current research in the field
• through producing written essay at end of course with ongoing support through course to this end
• through production of written essay and presentation to be given during course
Teaching methods: Lectures and seminars. Attendance is obligatory.
Assessment: Essay (5,000 – 6,000 words): 100% of final grade
Aim / objective
This course connects to the final qualification K2, K5, S1, S5, S6, S9 of the PSTS programme, according to the following learning objectives:
At the end of this course:
- The student has insight into leading ethical and political philosophical issues and debates regarding well-being, the good society and technology and will be able to compare and apply these effectively.
- The student has deepened insight into general theories and methods for technology ethics, including values in design, ethics approaches for emerging technologies, and global and intercultural ethics.
- The student will have knowledge of theories of individual responsibility and gain insight into how they can be applied or need to be revised in light of the development of autonomous information systems.
- The student will gain knowledge of theories of ideal and non-ideal ethical theorizing and gain insight into how to apply them in cases of radical climate injustice.
- Essay (5,000 words +/- 10%): 80% of final grade
- Research and Presentation on a Related Topic (5 minutes): 20% of final grade.
Each component of the final grade has to be graded sufficient or more (i.e. 5.5 or more).
Study load is the equivalent of 5 ECTS.
The course is free for PhD candidates who are a member of the 4TU Center for Ethics and Technology.
Send an email to Marlies Tijhuis (UT) firstname.lastname@example.org