Design for green: ethics and politics for behavior-steering technology

Ching Hung

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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We are faced with a very serious environmental crisis. Resource depletion, air pollution, biodiversity loss, climate change, etc., accompany each another, resulting largely from our current way of life. Manufacturing of nature-friendly products is far from being able to protect the environment; technologies can and should be made to change people’s environmental behavior. However, designing and implementing such technologies tend to provoke ethical and political concerns about human freedom and autonomy. Determining how to take advantage of behavior-steering technology without causing worries, therefore, is unavoidably a key challenge to practitioners as well as theorists. This dissertation takes on this challenge by answering four research questions: 1) Why is behavior-steering technology necessary for mitigating environmental problems? 2) What kind of behavior-steering technology is most helpful and why is that? 3) How can we respond to ethical concerns about the design and implementation of behavior-steering technology? 4) What would a political framework that can accommodate the practice of behavior-steering technology look like? By synthesizing philosophical insights about human-technology interactions, psychological explanations for the nature of human behavior, and political theories concerning democracy and social reform, this dissertation not only offers a conceptual basis in arguing for the necessity and feasibility of behavior-steering technology, but also suggests a piecemeal-behavioral approach to realizing this goal. Through the chapters of this dissertation, it becomes clear that, above all, to address the environmental crisis eventually requires us to conceive of a more realistic image of human beings and to rebuild contemporary ethical and political frameworks based upon it.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • Verbeek, Peter-Paul C.C., Supervisor
  • Nagenborg, Michael H., Co-Supervisor
Award date13 Nov 2019
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-90-365-4897-2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2019


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