Reflective Equilibrium

A paper that focuses on technology determinism. Whether technology should be allowed to be developed without control and restriction or that technology should be designed with ethics in mind. This paper will argue for the necessity of ethics in design thinking while developing technologies. The essay will focus on nanorobotics as a prime example as an up and coming form of technology, and why scientist and society need to seriously contemplate the ethics behind nanotechnology and not allow it the spread without control.

The form of the presentation and the paper.
a) State what your topic is and which particular aspect of it you will discuss. Indicate also in one sentence what your main point will be.
b) Give a historical – factual background of your topic.
c) Give an account of the main points in a text that you have read on this topic.
d) Comment on this text: What do you agree with? What do you not agree with? Give reasons!
e) Relate the discussion to at least one ethical theory we have read about in Rachels. You can point out how the arguments involved rely on various ethical commitments. Or you can argue that the best way to approach the issue is through a particular ethical outlook.

How to take a moral point of view on technology

Here are some initial suggestions for how to approach an issue from a moral point of view. Initial Questions:
a) Make clear what exactly the issue is and who the relevant agent or agents are. Who is acting, who is affected?
b) Which are the morally relevant consequences?
c) Are there any fundamental rights and obligations at stake?
d) Are there any social role related duties involved? Such as e.g. parent-child, employer/employee, teacher/student?

Moral theoretical approaches:
1.) Kantian: Is anyone being disrespected by being used merely as a means? Are any individual rights in danger? Which principle would we be willing to live under as a general law?
2.) Utilitarian: Is there an answer that clearly has a more beneficial outcome in terms of general well-being? When everyone’s well-being is regarded as equally important, what would be the best outcome?
3) Can there be an appeal to essential human traits, or a human nature? Is there what may be labeled “human dignity” at stake?
In many cases sound moral thinking comes down to finding a way that maximizes well-being, while also not violating any rights/disrespecting any person in the Kantian sense or disrespecting human life.
What complicates matters is that you may want to take social and cultural aspects in to account when making a moral decision:
4) Is the proposed answer compatible with the affected agents’ sense of identity, cultural and religious belonging, social roles and other aspects constituting the agents’ actual lived moral world? What does our common morality say, if anything?
Thinking Morally Consider question a -d and considerations 1 – 4 (above) and use your good judgment to reach an understanding. Yes, it requires deliberation and judgment. Seek to make your various moral and non-moral convictions as free of contradictions as possible, reach for what John Rawls called a reflective equilibrium.

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