Advertisement

Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 277–297 | Cite as

Teaching ethics and technology with Agora, an electronic tool

  • Simone van der Burg
  • Ibo van de Poel
Article

Abstract

Courses on ethics and technology have become compulsory for many students at the three Dutch technical universities during the past few years. During this time, teachers have faced a number of didactic problems, which are partly due to a growing number of students. In order to deal with these challenges, teachers in ethics at the three technical universities in the Netherlands — in Delft, Eindhoven and Twente — have developed a web-based computer program called Agora (see www.ethicsandtechnology.com). This program enables students to exercise their ethical understanding and skills extensively. The program makes it possible for students to participate actively in moral reflection and reasoning, and to develop the moral competencies that are needed in their later professional practice. The developers of the program have tried to avoid two traps. Firstly, they rejected, from the outset, a cookbook style of dealing with ethical problems that applied ethics is often taken to be and, secondly, they wanted to design a flexible program that respects the student’s as well as the teacher’s creativity, and that tries to engage students in moral reflection. Agora meets these requirements. The program offers possibilities that extend beyond the requirements that are usually accepted for case-exercises in applied ethics, and that have been realised in several other computer models for teaching ethics. In this article, we describe the main considerations in the development of Agora and the features of the resulting program.

Keywords

teaching ethics engineering ethics applied ethics web-based computer tools ethics and technology 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    Scheurwater, G.J. & Doorman, S.J. (2001) Introducing Ethics and Engineering: The case of Delft University of Technology, Science and Engineering Ethics 7: 261–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    van de Poel, I.R., Zandvoort, H & Brumsen, M. (2001) Ethics and Engineering Courses at Delft University of Technology: Contents, Educational Setup and Experiences, Science and Engineering Ethics 7: 267–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Royakkers, L., van de Poel, I. & Pieters, A. (eds.) (2004) Ethiek & Techniek. Morele overwegingen in de ingenieurspraktijk. Hbuitgevers, Baarn,.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    McNulty, M. (1998) Teaching Applied Ethics Effectively, Teaching Philosophy 21: 361–371Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    MacIntyre, A. (1984) Does Applied Ethics Rest on a Mistake? The Monist 67: 498–513.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Rachels, J. (1993) Moral Philosophy as a Subversive Activity, in: Winkler, E.R. and Coombs, J.R. (eds.), Applied Ethics: A Reader, Basil Blackwell, Oxford.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Harris, C. E., Pritchard, M. S. & Rabins, M. J. (2000) (22nd edition) Engineering Ethics: Concepts and Cases. Belmont, Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Whitbeck, C. (1998) Ethics in Engineering Practice and Research, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Opragen Publications 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simone van der Burg
    • 1
  • Ibo van de Poel
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Technology ManagementUniversity of Technology EindhovenEindhoventhe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Philosophy, School of Technology, Policy and ManagementDelft University of TechnologyDelftthe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations