Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 37–47 | Cite as

Design for a common world: On ethical agency and cognitive justice

  • Maja van der VeldenEmail author


The paper discusses two answers to the question, How to address the harmful effects of technology? The first response proposes a complete separation of science from culture, religion, and ethics. The second response finds harm in the logic and method of science itself. The paper deploys a feminist technoscience approach to overcome these accounts of neutral or deterministic technological agency. In this technoscience perspective, agency is not an attribute of autonomous human users alone but enacted and performed in socio-material configurations of people and technology and their ‘intra-actions’. This understanding of agency is proposed as an alternative that opens up for the reconfiguration of design and use for more ethical effects, such as the cultivation of cognitive justice, the equal treatment and representation of different ways of knowing the world. The implication of this approach is that design becomes an adaptive and ongoing intra-active process in which more desirable configurations of people and technology become possible.


Cognitive justice Design Diversity of knowledge Ethical agency Feminist technoscience Intra-action Neutral technology Web directories 


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This research is made possible by a grant from the Research Council of Norway (NFR project number 29237).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BergenBergenNorway

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