Politics by all means: an enquiry into technological liberalism

Govert Valkenburg

    Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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    Our liberal society can be thought of as the co-existence of two spheres: a public and a private sphere. In the public sphere, we make decisions together, to govern the society we are all part of. Those decisions require a justification that all can accept. In the private sphere, we make decisions that are only our own business. Therefore, we need not give account to others, and it does not matter much whether or not our reasons for those decisions are convincing to them. While this division may seem clear, it will always be fuzzy in practice: we may disagree whether decisions should be taken collectively or individually, and for collective decisions, we may disagree which arguments are appropriate and which are not. Technology is present in all aspects of our lives: our work, our communication, our food, our health care. If technologies change, it is likely that something in us changes as well. Indeed, if new medical technologies arise, this may make us think differently about disease - also in a moral sense. And if new technologies enable new ways of analyzing our genomes, this may make us think of our genomes and our genetic identities in a new, different way. This book discusses how technological changes induce new ways of thinking, and what consequences this may have for the liberal structure of our society and its boundary between public and private. It explains how technological change raises discomfort in dealing publicly with ethical issues. The book starts from setting up a framework of elements from both political philosophy and philosophy of technology. It then applies these ideas to three case studies: a study of human enhancement, a study of biobanks, and a Dutch political controversy on preimplantation genetic diagnostics.
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Twente
    • Achterhuis, H.J., Supervisor
    • Swierstra, T.E., Supervisor
    Award date5 Jun 2009
    Place of PublicationEnschede
    Print ISBNs978-90-365-2848-1
    Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2009


    • IR-61390

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