Article/Publication Details

Verbeek on the Moral Agency of Artifacts

Organon F, 2018, vol. 25, No 4, pp. 517-538.
Language: English
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One of the important questions discussed by philosophers of technology has to do with the moral significance of artifacts in human life. While many philosophers agree that artifacts do have moral significance attached to them, opinions vary as to how it is to be construed. In this paper we deal with the approach of the influential Dutch philosopher of technology Peter Paul Verbeek. He criticizes traditional ethical theories for assuming that whatever relevancy artifacts have for morality is entirely dependent on human beings, since artifacts are mere passive instruments of human agency. In contrast, he develops a view of moral agency that includes artifacts and that ascribes moral agency to human-technology hybrids rather than to humans as such. The goal of this paper is to elucidate Verbeek’s account of moral agency and evaluate it. We also deal with his views on postphenomenology and mediation underlying this account. Although the general gist of our paper is expository, we point out to several problems for Verbeek’s account.


artifacts, mediation, moral agency, Peter Paul Verbeek, postphenomenology, technology

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