3.5.2 Emotions and values

Course subject(s) Module 3. How: Stakeholder engagement and gender dimension


As you have seen in module 0, , risks arising from technologies raise important ethical issues for people living in the 21st century. Although technologies (such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, ICT) can potentially improve human well-being, they also come with serious risks. Consider the possibility and disastrous consequences of accidents, pollution, occupational safety or even environmental damage. Due to the subjective perception of such risks, such controversial technologies can trigger strong (negative) emotions, including fear and indignation, which often leads to conflicts between experts and laypeople.

Emotions are generally seen to be an annoyance in debates about risky technologies, because they seem irrational and immune to factual information.  However, in the next weblecture by Sabine Roeser, she will argue that emotions can be a source of practical rationality. Natural emotions like fear, sympathy and compassion help to grasp morally salient features of risky technologies, such as fairness, justice, equity and/or autonomy that might be overlooked in conventional, technocratic approaches to risk.

In other words, emotions should be taken seriously in debates about risky technologies and innovative products. This will lead to a more balanced debate with stakeholders in which all parties are taken seriously, which in turn signals that all sides are willing to listen to each other and give-and-take. This is needed in order to come to well-grounded policies on how to deal with risky technologies, and more importantly, broad acceptance of said policies.

Emotions and values

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Responsible Innovation: Building Tomorrow’s Responsible Firms by TU Delft OpenCourseWare is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://online-learning.tudelft.nl/courses/responsible-innovation-building-tomorrows-responsible-firms/.
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