New article: Beyond Checklists – Toward an Ethical-Constructive Technology Assessment

in: Journal of Responsible Innovation
by: Asle H. Kiran, Nelly Oudshoorn & Peter-Paul Verbeek

While many technology assessments (TAs) formally conducted by TA organizations in Europe and the USA have examined the implications of new technologies for ‘quantifiable risks’ regarding safety, health or the environment, they have largely ignored the ethical implications of those technologies. Recently, ethicists and philosophers have tried to fill this gap by introducing tools for ethical technology assessment (eTA). The predominant approaches in eTA typically rely on a checklist approach, narrowing down the moral assessment of new technologies to evaluating a list of pre-defined ethical issues. In doing so, they often remain external to processes of technology development. In order to connect the ethics of technology more closely with processes of technology development, this paper introduces a set of principles for an ethical-constructive technology assessment approach (eCTA), reflecting on insights developed in the philosophy of technology and Science and Technology Studies, and drawing on examples of telecare technologies. This approach bases itself on an analysis of the implications of technology processes at the micro-level, particularly for human–technology relations. The eCTA approach augments the current approach of the ethics of new and emerging science and technology at the meso- and macro-levels of institutional practices.