Research Group on the Ethos of Technology

Ethos

The ethos of RESET:

The interdisciplinary Research Group on the Ethos of Technology (RESET) investigates the relationship between technological and moral change. We specifically focus on the ethos of biotechnological enterprises: the nature of the good these enterprises aim to provide for individuals and society.

RESET research range from inception to application.  We study ethical and societal aspects of basic science like genomics, via enabling research infrastructures like biobanks, to specific contexts of application in health care.

RESET emphasizes interdisciplinary collaboration. We collaborate closely with researchers, policy makers and clinicians, engage patients and research participants, and work at the advisory and policy level. Our methodology comprises of both philosophical analysis and empirical social science research.

RESET wants to make a positive contribution. We articulate, assess and advise on how biotechnological enterprises can succeed in providing the desired good. Our mission is to promote ethically well reflected and responsible research, innovation, and implementation practices.

Researching the ethos of technology:

RESET seeks to explore, articulate and evaluate the ethos of emerging technologies. The notion of ethos, usually understood as moral character, is here used to denote traces of human evaluation that are embedded in technologies and in practices mediated by these technologies.

In researching the ethos of a specific technology or technological system, we are exploring the ‘normative good’ that drive innovation processes and analyzing to what extent the involved technologies reinforce the intended ideas of a good practice. An example is new “omics”-technologies (genomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics etc.). These new technologies are influencing the ways medicine is practiced today, and are also thought to give rise to a new paradigm of personalized medicine. What are the visions, desires and goals embedded in these technologies? What is understood as valuable, why are they perceived as worthy of pursuing? And are the practices they enable consistent with the visions and desires?

In analyzing and articulating the ethos, we are opening up black boxes of previous and present evaluations and examining the “whys” of technological innovation. However, unlike classical sociological or anthropological studies of value systems, researching the ethos also involves normative work in the sense that it entails evaluative descriptions of the evaluations embedded in the system. Are the technologies and practices contributing to a good society? Could there be other and better options available? Which questions are the important ones to ask?

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