Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 663–684 | Cite as

A network approach for distinguishing ethical issues in research and development

  • Sjoerd D. ZwartEmail author
  • Ibo van de Poel
  • Harald van Mil
  • Michiel Brumsen


In this paper we report on our experiences with using network analysis to discern and analyse ethical issues in research into, and the development of, a new wastewater treatment technology. Using network analysis, we preliminarily interpreted some of our observations in a Group Decision Room (GDR) session where we invited important stakeholders to think about the risks of this new technology. We show how a network approach is useful for understanding the observations, and suggests some relevant ethical issues. We argue that a network approach is also useful for ethical analysis of issues in other fields of research and development. The abandoning of the overarching rationality assumption, which is central to network approaches, does not have to lead to ethical relativism.


research and development ethical parallel research network approach group decision room responsibility risks sewage treatment 


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Copyright information

© Opragen Publications 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sjoerd D. Zwart
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ibo van de Poel
    • 1
  • Harald van Mil
    • 1
  • Michiel Brumsen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, School of Technology, Policy and ManagementDelft University of TechnologyDelftthe Netherlands

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