Philosophy & Technology

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 27–45 | Cite as

Introducing Transformative Technologies into Democratic Societies

  • Steve ClarkeEmail author
  • Rebecca Roache
Special Issue


Transformative technologies can radically alter human lives making us stronger, faster, more resistant to disease and so on. These include enhancement technologies as well as cloning and stem cell research. Such technologies are often approved of by many liberals who see them as offering us opportunities to lead better lives, but are often disapproved of by conservatives who worry about the many consequences of allowing these to be used. In this paper, we consider how a democratic government with mainly liberal values that is governing a population divided between liberals and conservatives can introduce new transformative technologies and try to achieve consensus about the introduction of such technologies. To do so, we draw on recent work in moral psychology which enables us to better understand the intuitive and emotional responses that underpin conservative objections to such new technologies. We then show how a government may introduce incremental changes in our social practices that have the long-term effect of weakening conservative objections to transformative technologies and better enabling governments to achieve consensus about these.


Consensus Conservative Intuition Liberal Moral Emotions Transformative Technologies 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Program on the Ethics of the New Biosciences, Oxford Martin Institute and Faculty of PhilosophyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford Martin Institute and Faculty of PhilosophyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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