How I learned to love the robot: capabilities, information technologies, and elderly care

Mark Coeckelbergh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Information technologies seem promising when it comes to improving elderly care, but they also raise ethical worries, for example about privacy, human contact, and justice. This paper argues that the capability approach is a helpful tool to make explicit what is at stake in this context and to discuss the relevant ethical issues. However, it is also proposed that we modify the capability approach by adopting a non-instrumental view of technology that takes into account how particular technologies change the meaning of the capabilities. This idea is further developed into suggestions for an ethical-hermeneutical interpretation of the capability approach, which involves the use of techno-moral imagination. To illustrate this, the paper explores and discusses an elderly care scenario in which people’s capabilities for social affiliation and engagement in relations with non-humans are transformed by information technology.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe capability approach, technology and design
EditorsI. Oosterlaken, J. van den Hoven
Place of PublicationDordrecht
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)978 9400738782
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Publication series

NamePhilosophy of Engineering and Technology
Volume5, Part 2


  • METIS-292207
  • IR-80064


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