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Colloquium with Peter-Paul Verbeek on his book Moralizing Technology

Peter-Paul Verbeek
Peter-Paul Verbeek
Moralizing Technology: Understanding and Designing the Morality of Things
Peter-Paul Verbeek, with comments by Pieter Vermaas and Joost van Driessche

Technologies have a profound impact on our daily lives. Cars enable us to travel long distances, mobile phones help us to communicate, and medical devices make it possible to detect and cure diseases. Such devices are not simply neutral instruments: they give shape to what we do and how we experience the world. There are good reasons to analyze this active role in shaping our daily actions and decisions in moral terms. If ethics is about the question of how to live and how to act, technologies can be said to have a specific form of moral significance. In a material way, they help us to answer moral questions. This conclusion raises many questions. How to conceptualize this moral dimension of technology? Should technologies really be considered to be moral agents? And can technologically influenced behavior qualify as moral action? Moreover, the approach of ‘moral mediation’ has important implications for the ethics of designing and using technology. With the help of many examples, Moralizing Technology explores the fascinating world of the morality of things.

Peter-Paul Verbeek is professor of philosophy of technology at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Twente, and holds the part-time Socrates chair at Delft University of Technology. He is a member of the Dutch Council for the Humanities and editorial board member of several scientific journals. Other main publications of his are User Behavior and Technology Development (Springer 2006; ed. with A. Slob) and What Things Do: Philosophical Reflections on Technology, Agency, and Design (Penn State University Press 2005).

Pieter Vermaas is senior researcher at the Philosophy Department of Delft University of Technology. His research focuses on the nature of technical artefacts, the concept of function in engineering and the methodology of designing. Publications include Delft monographs on technical functions and on general philosophy of technology, and journal articles connecting issues in philosophy of technology with issues in philosophy of biology, engineering ontology and metaphysics.

Joost van Driessche studied architecture (Brussels) and philosophy (Groningen). Currently he is working on a dissertation about the relationship between the languages of science and literature.
Last modified:30 October 2012 8.39 p.m.