Better Than New! Ethics for Assistive Technologists

  • Anita Silvers


What are the fundamental values that should guide the practice of assistive technologists? This essay examines two sources that appear to inform current understandings of the ethics of assistive technology: medical ethics and engineering ethics. From medical ethics comes the notion that assistive technology should aim to restore its users to normal functioning, making them like new. Engineering ethics, on the other hand, recommends enhancing users’ functionality, even if functioning is not achieved in a species typical way. From this engineering perspective, it is permissible and even desirable for assistive technology to make its users function even better than new. Thus enhancing functionality is a central value in assistive technology. Professionals in the field have the ability, and the responsibility as well, to address and counter societal suspicion of artificially enhanced functioning achieved through technology. Consequently, assistive technology professionals should fight against discrimination that excludes people with disabilities, whose functioning depends on prostheses and other products of technology, from the mainstream of social life.


Medical Ethic Engineer Ethic Disable People Assistive Technology Engineering Ethic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.San Francisco State UniversitySan FranciscoUSA

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