Changing moral value system

Weiler, in collaboration with Stephen C. Weiler in collaboration Stephen C.

Changing moral value system

Received Apr 2; Accepted Feb Abstract Recently, there is increased attention to the integration of moral values into the conception, design, and development of emerging IT. This article considers VSD as the prime candidate for implementing normative considerations into design.

Its methodology is considered from a conceptual, analytical, normative perspective. The focus here is on the suitability of VSD for integrating moral values into the design of technologies in a way that joins in with Changing moral value system analytical perspective on ethics of technology.

Despite its promising character, it turns out that VSD falls short in several respects: For the normative evaluation of a technology, I claim that an explicit and justified ethical starting point or principle is required. Moreover, explicit attention should be given to the value aims and assumptions of a particular design.

The criteria of adequacy for such an approach or methodology follow from the evaluation of VSD as the prime candidate for implementing moral values in design.

Changing moral value system

New Technologies Challenging Ethics Until the late twentieth century, technology was commonly regarded as value-neutral, i. Recently, this conception of technology has been extensively challenged.

One of the first prominent contemporary critics of the natural view of technology was Langdon Winner. He argued that technology is not value-neutral, but instead exhibits moral and political choices.


He provided a compelling example of the highway overpasses built by Robert Moses, a famous and influential New York architect of urban planning Winner Remarkably, Moses designed these bridges very low. The way they were built only allowed for cars to pass under whereas public transport busses passing under was rendered impossible.

Supposedly, this implied Robert Moses favored highways over public transport and community needs in his design. Other examples of the inherent moral and political import of technology include the discussion of online search engines Zimmer ; Introna and Nissenbaumsoft- and hardware codes Lessigdatabases and classification systems Bowker and Starcookies on personal computers Elmer and many more.

A related value-laden phenomenon concerns the way in which information is presented, such as the presentation of risks associated with technology Asveld and Roeser or the degree of reliability of information on the Internet Vedder and Wachbroit The political and moral dimensions of technology have been recognized and have become important research topics in the philosophy and ethics of technology.

Proponents of this account not only weigh and assess the risks and benefits of new technologies, but also address the issue of how technologies impact upon our moral decisions, actions, and ultimately, upon our lives. In light of the value-ladenness of technology it is highly desirable to have at our disposal means for ethically evaluating and justifying decision-making during technology design.

The increased awareness of possible implications of our design and our design choices for the expression, support, or undermining of our political and moral values contributes to an understandable desire to control and influence this process: Would it be possible to design our buildings, technologies, and institutions, so that they reflect, express, and enhance our moral and political views?

Let us, for the purpose of this paper, set aside political values and focus on the practice of enhancing and incorporating the integration of moral values into the design of Information Technology. I will consider and discuss Value-Sensitive Design VSDthe most reviewed approach pertaining to values in technology design so far, as the prime candidate for such a methodology.

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First I describe the methodology as put forward by VSD in section 2. In the next section this approach is critically discussed from a conceptual, analytical perspective. The focus of this discussion is on the suitability of the VSD approach for integrating moral values into the design of technologies in a way that joins in with an analytical perspective on ethics of technology.

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