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Ethics and Technology
TU DelftTU EindhovenUniversity of TwenteWageningen University
Ethics and Technology


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LC2 Philosophy of Responsible Innovation

This course discusses the main philosophical issues in relation to Responsible Innovation, an emerging concept in the EU context which highlights the relevance of social-ethical issues in research and innovation practices. This emerging concept calls for philosophical reflection on the nature, scope and applicability of responsibility and innovation in innovation practices in general, and the way social-ethical issues can be applied and addressed in specific fields like business, healthcare and energy in particular. Topics that will be covered include the nature of responsibility in responsible innovation, the role of societal values in innovation and value sensitive design, philosophical reflections on the role of knowledge and risk in innovation, constructive technology assessment and governance of responsible innovation, Responsible Innovation in the public sector (healthcare), responsible innovation in the private sector.

Students get to know some of the main positions in relation to philosophical issues in responsible innovation, the main arguments in the relevant debates and insight in the dilemma’s which apear in the practical application of responsible innovation in the public and private sector. Although the focus is on the philosophical and ethical issues raised by responsible innovation, we will also touch upon some more fundamental philosophical issues raised by responsible innovation. This includes issues like:

  • The nature of responsibility in light of the unpredictability of the future impact of innovations
  • The philosophical assumptions of the innovation paradigm
  • The way (responsible) innovations affect experience and praxis
  • Value incommensurability, value pluralism and the trade-offs between values in responsible innovation

Aim / objective

To become acquainted with the main philosophical issues in relation to Responsible Innovation.

Target group

PhD students (alfa, gamma, beta) who start their research in the field of Ethics of Technology and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), and PhD students in philosophy who want to learn more about philosophical and ethical reflection in the field of science and technology development. Students from universities outside The Netherlands are encouraged to subscribe for the course as well.

Preliminary program

Week 1 (Delft)

  • Day 1: Introduction to Responsible Research and Innovation (Blok, Swierstra & Boenink)
  • Day 2: Value Sensitive Design (vd Hoven & vd Poel)
  • Day 3: Conceptions of Responsibility in Relation to RRI I (Zwart) & Philosophy of Innovation (Blok)

Week 2 (Wageningen)

  • Day 4: ELSA and AIRR Framework (Plantinga & MacNaghten)
  • Day 5: Conceptions of Responsibility in Relation to RRI II (vd Poel/Blok)
  • Day 6: Postphenomenological analysis of RRI & Stakeholder participation (Ayden & Krabbenburg)
  • Day 7: Final Presentatioins (Blok & vd Poel)


  • Prof. dr. Tsjalling Swierstra, Maastricht University (day 1)
  • Prof. dr. Marianne Boenink, Radboud University Medical Center (day 1)
  • Dr. Vincent Blok, Wageningen University (day 1, 3, 5 and 7)
  • Prof. dr. ir. Ibo van de Poel, Technical University Delft (day 2, 5 and 7)
  • Dr. Mirjam Plantinga, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (day 4)
  • Prof. dr. Hub Zwart, Erasmus University Rotterdam (day 3)
  • Prof. dr. Jeroen van den Hoven, Technical University Delft (day 2)
  • Prof. dr. Phil Macnaghten, Wageningen University (day 4)
  • Dr. Lotte Krabbenborg, Radboud University Nijmegen (day 6)
  • Prof. Cyano Ayen, Twente University (day 6)

Required preparations

The participants are expected to read all the assigned literature, to do assignments and to actively participate in the discussions. They also have to give a final presentation (more information about the assignment will be provided during the first lecture)

Certificate / credit points

Study load is the equivalent of 5 EC.


It is obligatory to attend all sessions of the course.


The course is free for PhD candidates who are a member of the 4TU Center for Ethics and Technology and/or OZSW.

The course is also free for ReMa students who are a member of the OZSW and/or 4TU Center for Ethics and Technology, but they can not register directly. They can send an email to

Non-members pay a tuition fee of €300.


The course has been cancelled in 2024, therefore registration is closed.

More information

For more information contact