, 47:281 | Cite as

Governing by Values. EU Ethics: Soft Tool, Hard Effects



The institutionalization of ethics and the direct influence of politics on how ethics bodies frame their opinions have been widely recognized and explored in the last few years. Less attention has been paid to what kind of normative instrument “ethics” as an institutional phenomenon has become in the State under the rule of law, and which institutional powers it has depended on. This paper analyzes the rise of ethics in the European Union context, where ethics, constructed as an isolated set of values, has been exploited for its symbolic capacity to evoke citizenship, has become quite formalized as to certain features, and has acquired the potential to redefine the traditional divisions of powers in the State under the rule of law.


EU ethics Technology assessment Soft normativity Subsidiarity State under the rule of the law 



I would like to thank Prof. Peter Weingart and Prof. Dominique Pestre for the conversations during the seminar held in Paris in March of 2008, and my anonymous referee for the important comments and the relevant questions raised.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Università Cattolica S.C.PiacenzaItaly

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