Technological progress and responsibility

In Fiorella Battaglia, Nikil Mukerji & Julian Nida-Rümelin (eds.), Rethinking Responsibility in Science and Technology. Pisa University Press. pp. 25-36 (2014)
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Abstract
In this essay, I will examine how technological progress affects the responsibilities of human agents. To this end, I will distinguish between two interpretations of the concept of responsibility, viz. responsibility as attributability and substantive responsibility. On the former interpretation, responsibility has to do with the idea of authorship. When we say that a person is responsible for her actions we mean that she is to be seen as the author of these actions. They can be attributed to her, such that she can be normatively appraised – i.e. blamed, praised, etc. – on that basis. In discussing this kind of responsibility I will show that the responsibility of human agents tends to increase as their technologies progress. This claim is often taken for granted, but seldom clarified and argued for. I will give it a clear interpretation and provide a semi-formal reasoning that supports it. The second interpretation of responsibility that I will discuss is substantive responsibility. It has to do with the normative demands that confront us with what we are required to do. I will argue that technological change can affect, firstly, what our substantive responsibilities are on a case-by-case basis. Secondly, I will try to show that it can affect the way we think about our substantive responsibilities at the level of theoretical normative ethics.
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Responsibility, Order Ethics, and Group Agency.Mukerji, Nikil & Luetge, Christoph

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2014-09-10

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