Chapter 21: Responsible innovation in emerging technological practices
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Shaping technology in accordance with societal values and realizing responsible innovation (RI) often are confronted with lack of knowledge concerning the consequences of technology and innovation. Often there is no valid knowledge about specific innovation paths and products or about consequences and impacts of production, use, non-intended side-effects and disposal of future products, in particular in new and emerging science and technology (NEST) fields. The rationale of this chapter is to explore how responsibility could be conceptualized and made operable in this precarious epistemic situation. Responsibility debates in this situation usually can only consider narratives about possible future developments involving visions, expectations, fears, concerns and hopes. Questions arise such as, what could be subject to responsibility debates in the absence of valid knowledge about consequences of new and emerging technological practices? Is it possible to identify sources providing orientation for responsibility debates and assignments beyond the established consequentialist paradigm? In order to give at least partial and tentative answers to these questions, a broader perspective on the possible types of orientation is unfolded. This perspective allows complementing familiar consequentialist approaches of responsibility by adding a hermeneutic perspective. If it is no longer possible to provide orientation for RI within the consequentialist paradigm, it is possible to explore the narratives debated in a hermeneutic mode which could help in providing at least weak forms of orientation for RI processes.

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