Exploring Techno-Moral Change: The Case of the ObesityPill

  • Tsjalling Swierstra
  • Dirk Stemerding
  • Marianne Boenink
Part of the The International Library of Ethics, Law and Technology book series (ELTE, volume 3)


Technology is a major force in modern societies, co-shaping most of its aspects, including established moral norms and values. Technology Assessment aims to explore the consequences of New and Emerging Science and Technology [NEST] in advance, to help create better technology. This article develops a method for enhancing our moral imagination with regard to future techno-moral change. At the core of this method lies so-called NEST-ethics, the argumentative patterns and tropes that constitute the ‘grammar’ of ethical discussions about emerging technologies. This grammar can be applied to explore at forehand the moral controversies and even the moral changes that are provoked by these technologies. In the form of alternative techno-moral scenarios these explorations can be used to inform and enhance public deliberation on the desirability of the NEST in question. This results in a type of ethical TA that is self-reflective regarding its own moral standards. To illustrate our method, we offer ‘fragments’ of a techno-moral scenario on the moral consequences of the introduction of a future ObesityPill.


Techno-moral scenarios Ethical technology assessment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tsjalling Swierstra
    • 1
  • Dirk Stemerding
    • 2
  • Marianne Boenink
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Behavioural SciencesUniversity of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Rathenau InstituteThe HagueThe Netherlands

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