The first project, Moral Responsibility in R&D Networks, is a joint application of Eindhoven University of Technology and Delft University of Technology. The second project proposal, Neuroethics: ethical, legal and conceptual aspects of neuroscience and neurotechnology, was written by Delft University of Technology. With the subsidy from NWO, the Centre will appoint 3 new postdocs and 2 new PhD students.
Technological research projects increasingly take place in networks, which involve different kinds of actors. These networks often lack a strict hierarchy and a clear task division, and in these networks decisions are subject to negotiation. This increases the likelihood of the problem of identifying, even in principle, the person responsible for some outcome. The occurrence of this problem in R&D is especially undesirable because technological developments may have significant negative societal impacts, as is witnessed by such examples as the use of asbestos, CFCs, DDT, nuclear waste and the greenhouse effect. The project conceives of this problem as the moral problem of the tension between two requirements for a desirable distribution of responsibilities in R&D networks. One is that the distribution ought to be complete in the sense that for each moral issue someone is responsible. The other is that the distribution ought to be fair. The goal of the research is to contribute to the solution of the problem of many hands in R&D networks by gaining insight in how to reconcile the requirements of completeness and fairness in the distribution of responsibilities in R&D networks.
The neurosciences play an increasingly prominent role in society. This development gives rise to numerous ethical and legal problems. As a result, the relatively new field of neuroethics is currently undergoing an explosive growth. The present research-project aims (1) to give a conceptual clarification of the major issues in neuroethics, and (2) to study the legal aspects of neuroscience, with special attention to the Dutch legal system where relevant and appropriate.