, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 1–13 | Cite as

Anticipatory Ethics for Emerging Technologies

  • Philip A. E. BreyEmail author
Original Paper


In this essay, a new approach for the ethical study of emerging technology ethics will be presented, called anticipatory technology ethics (ATE). The ethics of emerging technology is the study of ethical issues at the R&D and introduction stage of technology development through anticipation of possible future devices, applications, and social consequences. I will argue that a major problem for its development is the problem of uncertainty, which can only be overcome through methodologically sound forecasting and futures studies. I will then consider three contemporary approaches to the ethics of emerging technologies that use forecasting: ethical technology assessment, the techno-ethical scenarios approach and the ETICA approach, and I considered their strengths and weaknesses. Based on this critical study, I then present my own approach: ATE. ATE is a conceptually and methodologically rich approach for the ethical analysis of emerging technologies that incorporates a large variety of ethical principles, issues, objects and levels of analysis, and research aims. It is ready to be applied to contemporary and future emerging technologies.


Anticipatory technology ethics Emerging technologies Uncertainty Futures studies Forecasting Technology assessment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, School of Behavioral SciencesUniversity of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands

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