Technology as Driver for Morally Motivated Conceptual Engineering

Philosophy and Technology 35 (3):1-25 (2022)
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New technologies are the source of uncertainties about the applicability of moral and morally connotated concepts. These uncertainties sometimes call for conceptual engineering, but it is not often recognized when this is the case. We take this to be a missed opportunity, as a recognition that different researchers are working on the same kind of project can help solve methodological questions that one is likely to encounter. In this paper, we present three case studies where philosophers of technology implicitly engage in conceptual engineering (without naming it as such). We subsequently reflect on the case studies to find out how these illustrate conceptual engineering as an appropriate method to deal with pressing concerns in the philosophy of technology. We have two main goals. We first want to contribute to the literature on conceptual engineering by presenting concrete examples of conceptual engineering in the philosophy of technology. This is especially relevant, because the technologies that are designed based on the conceptual work done by philosophers of technology potentially have crucial moral and social implications. Secondly, we want to make explicit what choices are made when doing this conceptual work. Making explicit that some of the implicit assumptions are, in fact, debated in the literature allows for reflection on these questions. Ultimately, our hope is that conscious reflection leads to an improvement of the conceptual work done.

Author Profiles

Herman Veluwenkamp
University of Groningen
Lavinia Marin
Delft University of Technology
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