Ph.D. Defence Naomi Jacobs, Eindhoven University of Technology.
September 29 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
‘Values and Capabilities: Ethics by Design for Vulnerable People’
On Wednesday September 29th at 16.00 Naomi Jacobs will defend her thesis ‘Values and Capabilities: Ethics by Design for Vulnerable People’. The defence can be attended online [link will follow].
Many know the pleasure of unhealthy habits. Perhaps you enjoy drinking a glass of wine or two, smoking a cigarette, or eating a piece of well-glazed cake late at night. Unfortunately, many of us also know that these enjoyable habits are bad for our health. We are continuously informed of how smoking, overeating, and physical inactivity contribute significantly to the development of various chronic diseases, and how these chronic diseases in turn affect our personal well-being as well as indirectly add to high health care costs. ‘But oh well’, I hear myself- and many others with me- think, ‘what could possibly be the harm of having just one more piece of this and just one more glass of that’, right?
To encourage people like me and many others to stick to a healthier lifestyle, a variety of technologies have been developed in recent years that aim at health-related behavior change. Such health-related behavior change technologies help people prevent, or reduce, unhealthy behaviors. But this type of persuasive technologies can give rise to ethical concerns, especially for vulnerable people.
In this dissertation, I examine what ethical concerns might arise for vulnerable people making use of health-related behavior change technologies. Subsequently, I explore how designers could account for these concerns by means of ‘ethics by design’ and I argue in favor of an ethics by design framework that combines Value Sensitive Design with Martha Nussbaum’s capability theory. This results in Capability Sensitive Design: a design framework that is able to normatively assess technology design in general, and technology design for health and wellbeing for vulnerable people in particular.