Moral “Lock-In” in Responsible Innovation: The Ethical and Social Aspects of Killing Day-Old Chicks and Its Alternatives

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 28 (5):939-960 (2013)
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The aim of this paper is to provide a conceptual framework that will help in understanding and evaluating, along social and ethical lines, the issue of killing day-old male chicks and two alternative directions of responsible innovations to solve this issue. The following research questions are addressed: Why is the killing of day-old chicks morally problematic? Are the proposed alternatives morally sound? To what extent do the alternatives lead to responsible innovation? The conceptual framework demonstrates clearly that there is a moral “lock-in”, and why the killing of day-old chicks is indeed an issue. Furthermore, it is shown that both alternative directions address some important objections with regard to the killing of day-old chicks, but that they also raise new dilemmas. It also becomes clear that the framework enables and secures anticipation, reflection, deliberation with and responsiveness to stakeholders, the four dimensions of responsible innovation, in a structured way.

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Vincent Blok
Wageningen University and Research


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