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Obstetric Ultrasound and the Technological Mediation of Morality: A Postphenomenological Analysis


This article analyzes the moral relevance of technological artifacts and its possible role in ethical theory, by taking the postphenomenological approach that has developed around the work of Don Ihde into the domain of ethics. By elaborating a postphenomenological analysis of the mediating role of ultrasound in moral decisions about abortion, the article argues that technologies embody morality and help to constitute moral subjectivity. This technological mediation of the moral subject is subsequently addressed in terms of Michel Foucault’s ethical position, in which ethics is about actively co-shaping one’s moral subjectivity. Integrating Foucauldian ethics and postphenomenology, the article argues that the technological mediation of moral subjectivity should be at the heart of an ethical approach that takes the moral dimensions of technology seriously.

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This article was written with financial support of NWO, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (personal grant for innovational research, “veni” track).

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Correspondence to Peter-Paul Verbeek.

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Verbeek, PP. Obstetric Ultrasound and the Technological Mediation of Morality: A Postphenomenological Analysis. Hum Stud 31, 11–26 (2008).

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  • Ethics of technology
  • Philosophy of technology
  • Postphenomenology
  • Michel Foucault
  • Obstetric ultrasound