A Global Resource
Edited by René von Schomberg and Jonathan Hankins
Chapter 5: Towards an ethics-of-ethics for responsible innovation
Responsible innovation is an emerging social movement, concept and practice in governance of science and technology. Yet, responsible innovation cannot be fully understood without its historical origins and the gravitational pulls that are impacting its development. Responsible innovation is emerging against a backdrop of: (1) bioethics scholarship that has been transformed over the past two decades such that a major wing of the discipline has adopted a utilitarian science enabler functionalist role situated in immediate proximity (and perhaps too close) to the science and technology actors; and (2) the field of science and technology studies (STS), which has traditionally offered critical insights into the backstage of science and technology, deconstructing the ways in which context, power and politics play an ever-present role in scientific knowledge co-production. In in this chapter I propose that for responsible innovation to evolve in a manner that is as socially responsive and responsible as the science it seeks to shape, a new epistemic layer of inquiry should be added, termed ethics-of-ethics. Recognition of ethics-of-ethics would foster greater reflexivity on the importance of processes of knowing, not only in natural science and technology, but also in social sciences and humanities. Such nested governance and independent cross-checking of knowledge co-production in both science and ethics would ensure that scientist, social scientist, humanists and ethicist are held accountable through transparency, for example, in the epistemological choices made, the upstream agendas created and the ends to which socio-technical analyses are intended to serve.
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