Responsible Innovation for Decent Nonliberal Peoples: A Dilemma?

Journal of Responsible Innovation 3 (2):154-168 (2016)
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It is hard to disagree with the idea of responsible innovation (henceforth, RI), as it enables policy-makers, scientists, technology developers, and the public to better understand and respond to the social, ethical, and policy challenges raised by new and emerging technologies. RI has gained prominence in policy agenda in Europe and the United States over the last few years. And, along with its rising importance in policy-making, there is also a burgeoning research literature on the topic. Given the historical context of which RI emerges, it should not be surprising that the current discourse on RI is predominantly based on liberal democratic values. Yet, the bias towards liberal democratic values will inevitably limit the discussion of RI, especially in the cases where liberal democratic values are not taken for granted. As such, there is an urgent need to return to the normative foundation of RI, and to explore the notion of ‘responsible innovation’ from nonliberal democratic perspectives. Against this background, this paper seeks to demonstrate the problematic consequences of RI solely grounded on or justified by liberal democratic values. This paper will cast the argument in the form of a dilemma to be labelled as The Decent Nonliberal Peoples’ Dilemma and use it to illustrate the problems of the Western bias.

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Pak-Hang Wong
Hong Kong Baptist University


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