Imagination, distributed responsibility and vulnerable technological systems: the case of Snorre A
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.Get Access
An influential approach to engineering ethics is based on codes of ethics and the application of moral principles by individual practitioners. However, to better understand the ethical problems of complex technological systems and the moral reasoning involved in such contexts, we need other tools as well. In this article, we consider the role of imagination and develop a concept of distributed responsibility in order to capture a broader range of human abilities and dimensions of moral responsibility. We show that in the case of Snorre A, a near-disaster with an oil and gas production installation, imagination played a crucial and morally relevant role in how the crew coped with the crisis. For example, we discuss the role of scenarios and images in the moral reasoning and discussion of the platform crew in coping with the crisis. Moreover, we argue that responsibility for increased system vulnerability, turning an undesired event into a near-disaster, should not be ascribed exclusively, for example to individual engineers alone, but should be understood as distributed between various actors, levels and times. We conclude that both managers and engineers need imagination to transcend their disciplinary perspectives in order to improve the robustness of their organisations and to be better prepared for crisis situations. We recommend that education and training programmes should be transformed accordingly.
- Adamski, A., & Westrum, R. (2003). Requisite imagination. The fine art of anticipating what might go wrong. In E. Hollnagel (Ed.), Handbook of cognitive task design (pp. 193–220). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
- Brattbakk, M., Østvold, L. -Ø., van der Zwaag, C., & Hiim, H. (2005). Investigation of gas blowout on Snorre A, Well 34/7-P31A, 28 November 2004. Stavanger: Petroleumstilsynet.
- Callon, M. (1998). An essay on framing and overflowing. In M. Callon (Ed.), The law of the markets (pp. 244–269). Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
- Coeckelbergh, M. (2006). Regulation or responsibility? Autonomy, moral imagination, and engineering. Science, Technology, and Human Values, 31(3), 1–24. CrossRef
- Fesmire, S. (2003). John Dewey and moral imagination. Bloomington/Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.
- Glenne, B. (Ed.). (1997). Sagaen om Saga. 25 år: 1972–1997. Oslo: Saga Petroleum ASA.
- Goffman E. (1974). Frame analysis. An essay on the organization of experience. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Hume, D. (1739/1740). A treatise of human nature. In E. C. Mossner (Ed.). London: Penguin Books (1969).
- Hume, D. (1751). An enquiry concerning the principles of morals in enquiries (1777) Revised edition. In P. H. Nidditch (Ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press (1975).
- Johnson, M. (1993). Moral imagination: Implications of cognitive science for ethics. Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press.
- Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1999). Philosophy in the flesh: The embodied mind and its challenge to western thought. New York: Basic Books.
- Lie, E. (2005). Oljerikdommer og internasjonal ekspansjon. Hydro 1977–2005. Bind 3 av hydros historie 1905–2005. Oslo: Pax Forlag.
- Nussbaum, M. C. (1990). Love’s knowledge: Essays on philosophy and literature. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Nussbaum, M. C. (1995). Poetic justice: The literary imagination and public life. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
- Ryggvik, H. (1997a). Norsk oljepolitikk mellom det internsjonale og det nasjonale. In O. E. Olsen, & F. Sejersted (Eds.), Oljevirksomheten som teknologiutiklingsprosjekt (pp. 26–78). Oslo: ad Notam Gyldendal.
- Ryggvik, H. (1997b). De tre bukkene Saga, Norsk Hydro og Statoil. Fra nasjonal beskyttelse til internasjonal ekspansjon. In O. E. Olsen, & F. Sejersted (Eds.), Oljevirksomheten som teknologiutiklingsprosjekt (pp. 198–247). Oslo: ad Notam Gyldendal.
- Schiefloe, P. M., & Vikland, K. M. (2005). Årsaksanalyse etter Snorre A hendelsen 28.11.2004. Stavanger: Statoil.
- Smith, A. (1759). The theory of moral sentiments. In D. D. Raphael, & A. L. Macfie (Eds.). Oxford: Clarendon Press (1976).
- Wackers, G., & Kørte, J. (2003). Drift and vulnerability in a complex technical system: Reliability of condition monitoring systems in North Sea offshore helicopter transport. International Journal of Engineering Education, 19(1), 192–205.
- Wackers, G. (2004). Resonating cultures. Engineering optimization in the design and failure of the 1991 loss of the Sleipner A GBS. Research Report no. 32/2004. Unipub Forlag/Center for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo, Oslo.
- Wackers, G. (2006). Vulnerability and robustness in a complex technological system: Loss of control and recovery in the 2004 Snorre A gas blow-out. Oslo: Unipub.
- Imagination, distributed responsibility and vulnerable technological systems: the case of Snorre A
Science and Engineering Ethics
Volume 13, Issue 2 , pp 235-248
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Kluwer Academic Publishers
- Additional Links
- Snorre A