Mechanisms of Techno-Moral Change: A Taxonomy and Overview

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 26 (5):763-784 (2023)
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The idea that technologies can change moral beliefs and practices is an old one. But how, exactly, does this happen? This paper builds on an emerging field of inquiry by developing a synoptic taxonomy of the mechanisms of techno-moral change. It argues that technology affects moral beliefs and practices in three main domains: decisional (how we make morally loaded decisions), relational (how we relate to others) and perceptual (how we perceive situations). It argues that across these three domains there are six primary mechanisms of techno-moral change: (i) adding options; (ii) changing decision-making costs; (iii) enabling new relationships; (iv) changing the burdens and expectations within relationships; (v) changing the balance of power in relationships; and (vi) changing perception (information, mental models and metaphors). The paper also discusses the layered, interactive and second-order effects of these mechanisms.

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John Danaher
University College, Galway

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