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Posted on August 25, 2008

Seminar: Anticipating the interaction of technology & morality

The aim of this closed seminar is to discuss the feasibility and desirability of techno-ethical scenarios to anticipate the mutual interaction of technology and morality. Scenarios of socio-technological futures are by now a common tool to stimulate public and expert imagination and deliberation about plausible consequences of new and emerging technologies. Unfortunately, most scenario studies tend to treat moral beliefs as independent variables, as if these were immune to technological influences. Scenario studies thus fail to systematically explore the mutual and dynamic interaction of technology and morality, even though such an interaction is only to be expected because of the general co-evolution of technoscience and society.

This observation served as a starting point for a research project we have been conducting recently, funded by the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). The purpose of this project, entitled ‘Developing scenarios of moral controversies concerning new (biomedical) technologies’, was to develop a theoretical framework for the systematic exploration of future moral controversies pertaining to emerging biomedical technologies. This framework should enable users to anticipate potential moral controversies at an early stage of technology development. Moreover, in doing so it should do justice to the interaction of technological and moral development by treating both as mutually dependent variables.

In the course of the project we have developed such a framework, partly on the basis of historical studies of past controversies. This framework has subsequently been used to write several techno-ethical scenarios of emerging technologies.


Location: Drienerburght Hotel, University of Twente

Monday, August 25

9.00 Welcome with coffee
9.15 Dr. Tsjalling Swierstra
  Introduction to the research project: anticipating the interaction of technology and morality
10.15 Dr. Margo Trappenburg & Drs.Hester van de Bovenkamp
  Working with the methodology: examples from the project [1]
11.15 Coffee and tea break
11.30 Dr. Marianne Boenink & Dr Dirk Stemerding
  Working with the methodology: examples from the project [2]
12.30 Lunch
13.30 Prof. dr. Armin Grunwald
  Comments from the perspective of TA and ethics
14.30 Dr. Paul Martin
  Comments from the perspective of science and technology studies
15.30 Coffee and tea break
16.00 Prof.dr.Rein de Wilde
  Comments from the perspective of scenario studies
17.00 General discussion
17.30 Drinks
19.00 Dinner

Tuesday, August 26

9.00 Dr. Simone van der Burg
  Practices and Scenarios: a neo-Aristotelian perspective
10.00 Dr. Mark Coeckelbergh
  Comments from moral imagination
11.00 Coffee and tea break
11.15 Prof.dr.Wibren van der Burg
  Comments from the perspective of ethics, dynamics, and moral change
12.15 Lunch
13.15 Prof.dr. Hub Zwart
  Comments from the perspective of imagining of socio-technical futures
14.15 Dr. Elin Palm
  Comments from the perspective of ethical TA
15.15 Tea/Coffee
15.30 Dr. Wybo Dondorp
  Comments from (Ethics and) Health Policy
16.30 Conclusions
17.00 Drinks & farewell
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