Ethical Parallel Research: A Network Approach for Moral Evaluation (NAME)

  • Ibo van de Poel
  • Neelke Doorn
Part of the Philosophy of Engineering and Technology book series (POET, volume 16)


Research and Development (R&D) of new technologies increasingly takes place in networks of different organizations and actors. In this contribution, we present an approach that was developed at Delft University of Technology for addressing ethical issues in R&D. The approach takes the engineers and scientists involved in R&D as entry point for discerning and discussing ethical issues and is to be carried out parallel to the R&D trajectory. On the basis of two cases studies, the network approach is described in detail including its strengths and weaknesses. Two procedural norms for assessing an R&D network are discussed, viz. inclusiveness and second-order learning. Some of the main advantages of the approach are that it offers the possibility to identify moral issues in situations of uncertainty and indeterminacy about the final consequences of technological innovations, while being applied already at the early stages of technological development. Because the moral issues are identified in their real-world context, the approach can generate insights that immediately influence R&D and design decisions. As such, the approach may help focusing the technical work in a way that moral issues are better addressed.


Ethical Issue Moral Judgment Network Approach Social Acceptance Elderly Home 
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.



Neelke Doorn acknowledges the Brocher Foundation, which provided her with the opportunity to work on this paper during her stay at the Centre as visiting researcher in fall 2011.


  1. Argyris, C., & Schön, D. A. (1978). Organizational learning: A theory of action perspective. Reading: Addison-Wesley. 344.Google Scholar
  2. Bressers, H., Huitema, D., & Kuks, S. M. M. (1994). Policy networks in Dutch water policy. Environment Politics, 3, 24–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brown, H. S., Vergragt, P., Green, K., & Berchicci, L. (2003). Learning for sustainability transition through bounded socio-technical experiments in personal mobility. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 15, 291–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Callon, M. (1992). The dynamics of techno-economic networks. In R. Coombs, P. Saviotti, & V. Walsh (Eds.), Technological change and company strategies (pp. 84–106). London: Academic.Google Scholar
  5. Cohen, S. J. (1997). Scientist-stakeholder collaboration in integrated assessment of climate change: Lessons from a case-study of northwest Canada. Environmental Modelling and Assessment, 2, 281–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Daboub, A. J., & Calton, J. M. (2002). Stakeholder learning dialogues: How to preserve ethical responsibility in networks. Journal of Business Ethics, 41, 85–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Daniels, N. (1979). Wide reflective equilibrium and theory acceptance in ethics. Journal of Philosophy, 76, 256–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Daniels, N. (1996). Justice and justification: Reflective equilibrium in theory and practice (Cambridge studies in philosophy and public policy). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. De Kreuk, M. K., Van de Poel, I. R., Zwart, S. D., & Van Loosdrecht, M. C. M. (2010). Ethics in innovation: Cooperation and tension. In I. R. Van de Poel & D. E. Goldberg (Eds.), Philosophy and engineering: An emerging agenda (pp. 215–226). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  10. Dery, D. (1984). Problem definition in public policy. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.Google Scholar
  11. Doorn, N. (2010). Applying Rawlsian approaches to resolve ethical issues: inventory and setting of a research agenda. Journal of Business Ethics, 91, 127–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Doorn, N., & Nihlén Fahlquist, J. A. (2010). Responsibility in engineering. Towards a new role for engineering ethicists. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 30, 222–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Doorn, N. (2012). Exploring responsibility rationales in Research and Development (R&D). Science, Technology & Human Values, 37, 180–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dryzek, J. S., & Niemeyer, S. (2006). Reconciling pluralism and consensus as political ideals. American Journal of Political Science, 50, 634–649.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Einsiedel, E. F., Jelsoe, E., & Breck, T. (2001). Publics at the technology table: The consensus conference in Denmark, Canada, and Australia. Public Understanding of Science, 10, 83–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Elzen, B., Enserink, B., & Smit, W. A. (1996). Socio-technical networks. How a technology studies approach may help to solve problems related to technical change. Social Studies of Science, 26, 95–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Elzen, B., Geels, F. W., & Green, K. (2004). System innovation and the transition to sustainability: Theory, evidence and policy. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fischer, F. (1980). Politics, values, and public policy. Boulder: Westview.Google Scholar
  19. Fischer, F. (1995). Evaluating public policy. Chicago: Nelson-Hall.Google Scholar
  20. Grin, J., & Hoppe, R. (1995). Toward a comparative framework for learning from experiences with interactive technology assessment. Industrial & Environmental Crisis Quarterly, 9, 99–120.Google Scholar
  21. Grin, J., & Van der Graaf, H. (1996). Technology assessment as learning. Science, Technology & Human Values, 21, 72–99.Google Scholar
  22. Hakansson, H. (Ed.). (1989). Industrial technological development. A network approach. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. Hanson, C. E., Palutikof, J. P., Dlugolecki, A., & Giannakopoulos, C. (2006). Bridging the gap between science and the stakeholder: The case of climate change research. Climate Research, 31, 121–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jacobson, I. (1987). Object-oriented development in an industrial environment. Proceedings of OOPSLA’, 87, 183–191.Google Scholar
  25. Jacobson, I., & Ng, P.-W. (2005). Aspect-oriented software development with use cases. Upper Saddle River: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  26. Johanson, J., & Mattsson, L. G. (1992). Network positions and strategic action: An analytical framework. In B. Axelsson & G. Easton (Eds.), Industrial networks: A new view of reality. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. Joss, S., & Bellucci, S. (Eds.). (2002). Participatory technology assessment. European perspectives. Gateshead/Tyne/Wear: Athenaeum Press.Google Scholar
  28. Joss, S., & Durant, J. (Eds.). (1995). Public participation in science: The role of consensus conferences in Europe. London: Trustees of the Science Museum.Google Scholar
  29. Kensing, F. (2003). Methods and practices in participatory design. Copenhagen: ITU Press.Google Scholar
  30. Kingdon, J. W. (1984). Agendas, alternatives and public policies. Toronto: Little, Brown and Company.Google Scholar
  31. Klijn, E. H. (1997a). Policy networks. An overview. In W. J. M. Kickert, E. H. Klijn, & J. F. M. Koppenjan (Eds.), Managing complex networks. Strategies for the public sector (pp. 14–34). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  32. Klijn, E. H. (1997b). Policy networks: An overview. In W. J. M. Kickert, E. H. Klijn, & J. F. M. Koppenjan (Eds.), Managing complex networks. Strategies for the public sector (pp. 14–34). Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar
  33. Marsh, D., & Smith, M. (2000). Understanding policy networks: Towards a dialectical approach. Political Studies, 48, 4–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mattern, F. (2004). Ubiquitous computing: Scenarios for an informatized world. In A. Zerdick et al. (Eds.), E-merging media: Communication and the media economy of the future (pp. 155–174). Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mehalik, M. M., & Gorman, M. E. (2006). A framework for strategic network design assessment, decision making, and moral imagination. Science, Technology & Human Values, 31, 289–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mitchell, R. K., Agle, B. R., & Wood, D. J. (1997). Towards a theory of stakeholder identification and salience. Defining the principle of who and what really counts. Academy of Management Review, 22, 853–896.Google Scholar
  37. Rawls, J. (1999 [1971]). A theory of justice (Rev. ed.). Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Reuzel, R. P. B., Van der Wilt, G. J., Ten Have, H. A. M. J., & Robbe, P. E. D. (2001). Interactive technology assessment and wide reflective equilibrium. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 26, 245–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rip, A., Misa, T. J., & Schot, J. (Eds.). (1995). Managing technology in society. The approach of constructive technology assessment. London: Cassell Publishers Limited.Google Scholar
  40. Rogers, J. D., & Bozeman, B. (2001). “Knowledge value alliances”: An alternative to the R&D project focus in evaluation. Science, Technology & Human Values, 26, 23–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Saari, E., & Miettinen, R. (2001). Dynamics of change in research work: Constructing a new research area in a research group. Science, Technology & Human Values, 26, 300–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sabatier, P. A., & Jenkins-Smith, H. C. (1993). Policy change and learning: An advocacy coalition approach (Theoretical Lenses on Public Policy). Boulder: Westview Press, Inc.Google Scholar
  43. Schinzinger, R. (1998). Ethics on the feedback loop. Control Engineering Practice, 6, 239–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Schneider, V. (1992). The structure of policy networks. A comparison of the ‘chemical control’ and ‘telecommunications’ policy domain in Germany. European Journal of Political Research, 21, 109–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Schön, D. A. (1983). The reflective practitioner. How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  46. Schot, J. W. (2001). Towards new forms of participatory technology development. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 13, 39–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Schot, J. W., & Rip, A. (1997). The past and future of constructive technology assessment. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 54, 251–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Schuler, D., & Namioka, A. (Eds.). (1993). Participatory design: Principles and practices. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  49. Schuurbiers, D. (2011). What happens in the lab: Applying midstream modulation to enhance critical reflection. Science and Engineering Ethics, 17, 769–788.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sclove, R. E. (1995). Democracy and technology. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  51. Senge, P. M. (1990). The Leader’s New Work: Building learning organizations. Sloan Management Review, 32, 7–23.Google Scholar
  52. Smit, W. A., Elzen, B., & Enserink, B. (1998). Coordination in military socio-technical networks: Military needs, requirements and guiding principles. In C. Disco & B. Van der Meulen (Eds.), Getting new technologies together. Studies in making sociotechnical order (pp. 71–106). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  53. Spender, J. C. (1989). Industry recipes: The nature and sources of managerial judgement. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  54. Spier, R. E. (2010). “Dual use” and “Intentionality”: Seeking to prevent the manifestation of deliberately harmful objectives A summary and some reflections on ‘The advancement of science and the dilemma of dual use: Why we can’t afford to fail’. Science and Engineering Ethics, 16, 1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Swierstra, T. E., & Jelsma, J. (2006). Responsibility without moralism in techno-scientific design practice. Science, Technology & Human Values, 31, 309–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Van Asselt, M. B. A., & Rijkens-Klomp, N. (2002). A look in the mirror: Reflection on participation in integrated assessment from a methodological perspective. Global Environmental Change, 12, 167–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Van de Poel, I. R. (2008). How should we do nanoethics? A network approach for discerning ethical issues in nanotechnology. NanoEthics, 2, 25–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Van de Poel, I. R., & Van Gorp, A. C. (2006). The need for ethical reflection in engineering design: The relevance of type of design and design hierarchy. Science, Technology & Human Values, 31, 333–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Van de Poel, I. R., & Zwart, S. D. (2010). Reflective equilibrium in R&D networks. Science, Technology & Human Values, 35, 174–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Van der Bruggen, K. (2012). Possibilities, intentions and threats: Dual use in the life sciences reconsidered. Science and Engineering Ethics, 18, 741–756.Google Scholar
  61. Wynne, B. (2011). Lab work goes social, and vice versa: Strategising public engagement processes. Science and Engineering Ethics, 17, 791–800.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Zwart, S. D., Van de Poel, I. R., Van Mil, H., & Brumsen, M. (2006). A network approach for distinguishing ethical issues in research and development. Science and Engineering Ethics, 12, 663–684.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Technology, Policy and ManagementDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations