Introduction: Enhancing ethical reflection in the laboratory: How soft impacts require tough thinking

S. van den Burg, T.E. Swierstra

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


The lives of contemporary men and women are entangled with technology. The alarm clock that wakes them in the morning, the clothes they put on, the food they eat, the ways they move around, the heated and air-conditioned environments they reside in, their means of communication, their entertainment (television, movies, games, books)—all are examples of technological artefacts that many people use every day. These technological artefacts don’t fulfil their purposes by themselves, but depend on specific practices to do so. Sometimes these are modest, like knowing how to set the alarm; sometimes they are more complex like driving a car or handling a computer. Furthermore, all artefacts and their accompanying practices also presuppose that certain background conditions have been fulfilled (sclove 1995). Picking up the jar of peanut butter on the breakfast table and asking where it comes from, who produced it and how, and how it arrived here reveals a long, heterogeneous and complex network of people, things and activities, such as farming skills, the production of fertilisers, flying and driving licenses, planes and cars, roads, road maintenance, petrol stations, traffic rules, police and so forth.keywordsmoral philosophertechnology actorbritish petroleumtechnological artefactresponsible innovationthese keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEthics on the Laboratory Floor
EditorsS. van den Burg, T. Swierstra
Place of PublicationBasingstoke
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-137-00293-8
ISBN (Print)978-1-137-00292-1
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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