Identifying the normative challenges posed by technology’s ‘soft’ impacts

T.E. Swierstra*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In this paper I argue that we can no longer afford to ignore technology's so-called 'soft' impacts, as this type of impact is becoming increasingly prominent in affluent societies where people have sufficient resources to pursue self-realization and where technologies are becoming more and more 'intimate' as they pervade our life-world. These soft impacts come with their own type of normative challenges. The first challenge is to acknowledge the mutual shaping of technology and morality that causes soft impacts to be fundamentally morally ambiguous. The second challenge is to anticipate soft impacts, which requires a rich and thick description of our morally-laden current practices in the light of plausible technomoral change provoked by emerging technologies. The third and last challenge is to avoid both relativism and foundationalism, by opting for an open and learning attitude vis a vis the ways new and emerging technologies put our current morals into question.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-20
Number of pages16
JournalEtikk i Praksis
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


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