Are technology ads ethical – The impact of technoscience in today’s life is total. Many scientific discoveries end up as tools and devices (mobile phones, computers, cars), without which we are almost incompetent. They impact environmental sustainability but also improve our abilities, those of our offspring and even our longevity and possible immortality.
Thanks to advances in knowledge and technology, we are changing how we feed ourselves, have fun, and reproduce ourselves… Let us think, for example, of the use of animals: to eat and make them work, experiment, and entertain ourselves while taking care of them. Let us think of surrogacy (popularly known as the use of “wombs for hire”) as an assisted reproduction technique.
Technoscience is imposed as progress. Knowing is liberating. We thus pass from “chance” to “choice”, from chance to choice. However, what is new is not always good: having more options deprives us of others or subjects us to new ties. Not the whole thing that is technically possible is ethically sound. Technical progress also has collateral effects.
Our society lives so fast that advances do not catch us, neither prepared nor ready. When new possibilities arise, we often improvise without considering the consequences. We do not anticipate the impact on the global village of a technique of mass use before adopting it or the exclusion to which it subjects those who do not have access to it. Hans Jonas reminds us that we discover what is at stake when we find out what is at stake.
We need more ethics than mere morality
From what values will we judge if the consequences generated by technoscience are good or bad? In plural societies, where we do not share all the deals, we cannot assume that we agree on what is good or bad. Morality is lived and transmitted culturally; ethics, a philosophy about character, question it.
In this techno-scientific era, we need more ethics than morals, more reflection than mere action; Well, you have to give reasons why you carry out some moves and abandon others. For example: why recover the habit of using glass and leaving plastics?
Global ethics and responsibility
We need an ethic for the world and its care. Therefore, this ethic must be an ethic of responsibility. And the questions to be answered are: who should answer, for what and to whom. The ethics from which to understand what kind of technoscience we want and what we don’t must be civic ethics. This does not tell us how we should live, but it must guarantee life in conditions of dignity, autonomy and justice for all. We need to think together about the world we create from this generic framework of human rights.
Ethics in the era of technoscience must be civic, for the global village, of minimum agreements for everyone, without excluding anyone. It must be an ethic that expands freedom and does not subject it to unknown risks, such as the risk of losing freedom itself. Let us not forget that we do not know where that first freedom comes from, from which we ask ourselves what to do. And it is the moral experience, made possible by our liberty, that humanizes us. For all this thinking about uncertainty and complexity, we institutionalized ethics committees (for research, healthcare, and organizations) and trained professionals in their work’s responsibility.
To argue the decisions to be made as humanity from this global ethical framework and responsibility, the following criteria or guidelines could serve as a guide to the specific problems on which to decide:
- Universalizability requires us to think ofall of us as affected by actions. The critical question is whether it would suit everyone to do it.
- Responsibility demands transparencyfrom us. If the whole world knew we had done it, would we feel ashamed or guilty?
- Much more direct is the question of reciprocity, what would happen if they did it to me if they paid me in the same coin?
- Since Hippocrates, caring professionals have known that damage should not be done. For this reason, the question now must be how this action affects those in a situation of greatest vulnerability.
- Since we have to consider medium and long-term impacts, the pertinent question is whether it will be ecologically and economically
- As we learn from trial and error, we should wisely and cautiously think about whether the action is revocable. Aristotle suggests in his ” Nicomachean Ethics ” to opt for intermediate paths of action, adopting a middle ground, since the extremes, by excess and by default, are vices.
- The criterion of transcendentalityhelps us to prioritize conflicts between rights. For example, the right to life is superior to the quality of life because only from life can one judge its quality; but when we talk about the life of a competent adult, it is the quality that prevails.
- Another criterion could utilized, obtaining the most significant benefit for the greatest number of people.
An ethic for the techno-scientific era requires thought in action, that is, concerted critical and rational capacity. For this, we need to transfer knowledge, also of ethics. And, beyond personal or professional ethics and our intentions or goodwill, civic and organizational ethics agree on how to share an Earth that is worth caring for and in which to care for ourselves.
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