Keynote address: Prof. Ingrid Robeyns

The promises and limits of the capability approach for the ethics of technology

On Thursday 7th November, Ingrid will be talking about the Promises and Limits of the Capability Approach for the Ethics of Technology.

In the last two decades, the capability approach has become a widely used normative approach in a wide range of disciplines. Yet until recently, the capability approach was often reduced to the work by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, and there was a poor understanding of how one could think of the capability approach in more general terms. In order to address this issue, I developed a modular account of the capability approach, which aims at describing the capability approach in its most general terms. In my talk, I will present the modular account, show how it can be applied to the ethics of technology, discuss the strengths of this approach, as well as highlight its limits. The bottom line is that the capability approach has some distinct contributions to make to the ethics of technology, but given its modular structure it generally needs to be supplemented with other theories or claims before it can live up to its potential.

Ingrid Robeyns holds a Chair in the Ethics of Institutions, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Faculty of Humanities, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.

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