The Role of Ethics in Interdisciplinary Technology Assessment

TitleThe Role of Ethics in Interdisciplinary Technology Assessment
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsDecker M
JournalPoiesis and Praxis
AbstractTechnology Assessment (TA) is a problem oriented endeavour dealing with political, societal, ecological, etc. problems. Only in rare cases is one individual scientific discipline sufficient to assess these problems. Usually the perspectives of different scientific disciplines have to be combined in order to develop interdisciplinary based recommendations to act. In this paper a quality controlled interdisciplinary discussion process is described which encourages an expert group to generate argumentation chains cross-cutting the disciplinary boundaries. The role of ethical reflection in this procedure depends on the problem situation. Whenever a technical application is on the agenda which cannot be allocated to a so-called “business-as-usual” case, one would ask for ethical reflection. This contribution argues that this ethical reflection has to take place together with the interdisciplinary discussion due to two reasons. Firstly, the technical, economical, legal and social aspects are deeply cross-correlated with the ethical reflection. And secondly, participating in such interdisciplinary discussions enables an ethical reflection which keeps in touch with the real world. Two case studies dealing with robotics applications in health care are mentioned as examples for problem settings, in which interdisciplinary TA succeed in developing discipline-crossing argumentation chains.