The introduction of new energy technologies may lead to public resistance and contestation. It is often argued that this phenomenon is caused by an inadequate inclusion of relevant public values in the design of technology. In this paper we examine the applicability of the value sensitive design approach. While VSD was primarily introduced for incorporating values in technological design, our focus in this paper is expanded towards the design of the institutions surrounding these technologies, as well as the design of (...) stakeholder participation. One important methodological challenge of VSD is to identify the relevant values related to new technological developments. In this paper, we argue that the public debate can form a rich source from which to retrieve the values at stake. To demonstrate this, we have examined the arguments used in the public debate regarding the exploration and exploitation of shale gas in the Netherlands. We identified two important sets of the underlying values, namely substantive and procedural values. This paper concludes with two key findings. Firstly, contrary to what is often suggested in the literature, both proponents and opponents seem to endorse the same values. Secondly, contestation seems to arise in the precise operationalization of these values among the different stakeholders. In other words, contestation in the Dutch shale gas debate does not arise from inter-value conflict but rather from intra-value conflicts. This multi-interpretability should be incorporated in VSD processes. (shrink)
This paper makes a conceptual inquiry into the notion of ‘publics’, and forwards an understanding of this notion that allows more responsible forms of decision-making with regards to technologies that have localized impacts, such as wind parks, hydrogen stations or flood barriers. The outcome of this inquiry is that the acceptability of a decision is to be assessed by a plurality of ‘publics’, including that of a local community. Even though a plurality of ‘publics’ might create competing normative demands, its (...) acknowledgment is necessary to withstand the monopolization of the process of technology appraisal. The paper presents four ways in which such an appropriation of publicness takes place. The creation of dedicated ‘local publics’, in contrast, helps to overcome these problems and allows for more responsible forms of decision-making. We describe ‘local publics’ as those in which stakeholders from the different publics that are related to the process of technology implementation are brought together, and in which concerns and issues from these publics are deliberated upon. The paper will present eight conditions for increasing the effectiveness of such ‘local publics’. (shrink)
Emotions are often met with suspicion in political debates about risky technologies, because they are seen as contrary to rational decision making. However, recent emotion research rejects such a dichotomous view of reason and emotion, by seeing emotions as an important source of moral insight. Moral emotions such as compassion and feelings of responsibility and justice can play an important role in judging ethical aspects of technological risks, such as justice, fairness, and autonomy. This article discusses how this idea can (...) be integrated into approaches for political decision making about risk. The article starts with an analysis of the dichotomous view of reason and emotion in risk theory, in approaches to participatory risk assessment as well as in relevant approaches to political philosophy. This article then presents alternative approaches in political philosophy and political theory that do explicitly endorse the importance of emotions. Based on these insights, a procedural approach for policy making is presented, in which emotional responses to technological risks, and the ethical concerns that lie behind them, are taken seriously. This approach allows for morally better political decisions about risky technologies and a better understanding between experts and laypeople. (shrink)
Knowing that technologies are inherently value-laden and systemically interwoven with society, the question is how individual engineers can take up the challenge of accepting the responsibility for their work? This paper will argue that engineers have no institutional structure at the level of society that allows them to recognize, reflect upon, and actively integrate the value-laden character of their designs. Instead, engineers have to tap on the different institutional realms of market, science, and state, making their work a ‘hybrid’ activity (...) combining elements from the different institutional realms. To deal with this institutional hybridity, engineers develop routines and heuristics in their professional network, which do not allow societal values to be expressed in a satisfactory manner. To allow forms of ‘active’ responsibility, there have to be so-called ‘accountability forums’ that guide moral reflections of individual actors. The paper will subsequently look at the methodologies of value-sensitive design and constructive technology assessment and explore whether and how these methodologies allow engineers to integrate societal values into the design technological artifacts and systems. As VSD and CTA are methodologies that look at the process of technological design, whereas the focus of this paper is on the designer, they can only be used indirectly, namely as frameworks which help to identify the contours of a framework for active responsibility of engineers. (shrink)
New network technologies are framed as eliminating ‘transaction costs’, a notion first developed in economic theory that now drives the design of market systems. However, the actual promise of the elimination of transaction costs seems unfeasible, because of a cyclical pattern in which network technologies that make that promise create processes of institutionalization that create new forms transaction costs. Nonetheless, the promises legitimize the exemption of innovations of network technologies from critical scrutiny.
The way pollution is managed in Western countries is based on the preservation of the taboo character of waste, which is conceived to be privately produced and seen as a threat to public health. Public authorities have been given the responsibility to isolate waste and hide it from public eyes. However, this dominant approach is challenged by the emergence of new forms of pollution. New conceptual and policy frameworks to manage environmental degradation have to be developed. The prevailing institutional structures, (...) however, obstruct the successful societal uptake of alternative frameworks. (shrink)
In this paper, we take inspiration from original institutional economics (OIE) as an approach to study value change within the highly complex assembly of sociotechnical transformations that make up the energy transition. OIE is examined here as a suitable perspective, as it combines Dewey’s pragmatist philosophy and a methodological interactionist perspective on value change, behavior and institutions, with technology figuring as a transformational factor. This combination overcomes conceptual and methodological shortcomings of alternative accounts of values. We will present the contours (...) of an OIE based conceptual framework connecting nature, humans, technology, the economic process, society, culture and institutions and habits, valuation and behavior. We illustrate how to use this framework to examine and understand how environmental, ecologic, safety, economic, and social concerns about the energy transition are (re)framed as (new) values in the belief systems and habits of individuals and groups. Moreover, we will explore how that may give rise to collective action, via the institutionalization of such revised values in the procedures, arrangements, norms and incentives guiding transactions. As such, this approach allows us in a fine-grained manner to conceptually and theoretically understand the way in which values change in the energy-transition, as a complex interaction of technology development and social relations. (shrink)