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The Popularization of Emerging Technologies through Ethics: From Nanotechnology to Synthetic Biology

Schummer, Joachim (2009) The Popularization of Emerging Technologies through Ethics: From Nanotechnology to Synthetic Biology. Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science, 2 (1). ISSN 1913-0465

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Abstract

We are used to considering engineering ethics largely a critical enterprise. By pointing out ethical issues and by raising concerns about a technology, ethicists usually criticise rather than promote the technology in question. Of course, from a utilitarianist perspective, an ethicist might come to the conclusion that a certain technology is better than another one or than doing without. However, such conclusions are rare in philosophy and would not be considered uncritical promotion. In this essay I argue that engineering ethics, almost unavoidably, turns into the promotion and popularisation of a technology if that technology does not exist yet but is considered to be emerging in the near future. In other words, ethics of emerging technologies is not only prone to but almost destined to play a propaganda role in the public sphere. As engineering ethics moves from established to emerging technologies ethicists need to be aware that they become useful instruments in the struggle for public attention and funding.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Schummer, Joachim
Keywords: Scientific Realism; Epistemic Issues; Epistemology of Science
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Technology
General Issues > Values In Science
Depositing User: Jordan Miller
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2021 03:28
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2021 03:28
Item ID: 17957
Journal or Publication Title: Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science
Publisher: The University of Toronto
Official URL: https://spontaneousgenerations.library.utoronto.ca...
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.4245/sponge.v2i1.3529
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Technology
General Issues > Values In Science
Date: 26 January 2009
Volume: 2
Number: 1
ISSN: 1913-0465
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/17957

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