Designing Moral Technologies – Theoretical, Practical and Ethical Issues

July 10, 2016 - July 15, 2016
University of Zürich

Via Collina 84
Monte Verità CH-6612

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  • Congressi Stefano Franscini
  • Cogito Foundation
  • University Research Priority Program Ethics of the University of Zurich

Main speakers:

David Abrams
University of Pennsylvania
Willem-Paul Brinkman
Delft University of Technology
Rosaria Conte
Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies
Molly Crockett
Oxford University
Paul Slovic
University of Oregon
John Sullins
Sonoma State University
Ann Tenbrunsel
University of Notre Dame
Nicole Vincent
Georgia State University


Mark Alfano
Delft University of Technology
Markus Christen
University of Zürich
Darcia Narvaez
University of Notre Dame
Peter Schaber
University of Zürich
Carmen Tanner
Zeppelin Universität Friedrichshafen
Giuseppe Ugazio
University of Zürich
Roberto Weber
University of Zürich
Jeroen van den Hoven
Delft University of Technology

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Scope: Many empirical disciplines, such as sociology, psychology, neuroscience and anthropology, contribute to a growing knowledge of the foundations, mechanisms, and conditions of human moral behavior in various social contexts. This knowledge provides a basis for moral technologies – interventions intended to improve moral decision-making that do not target deliberation itself, but underlying neurological or psychological processes, as well as technological mediators of human social interaction. Such technologies include pharmacological interventions (“moral enhancement”), social technologies for “nudging” people, and persuasive information technologies. This development raises important questions, such as: Are context-sensitive moral technologies possible? To what extent is it morally justifiable to bypass deliberation in pursuit of improved moral decision-making? Do moral technologies endanger ethical pluralism?

The conference will discuss theoretical, practical and ethical issues related to moral technologies. The conference will take place at the Centro Stefano Franscini ( on the Monte Verità in the southern part of Switzerland (near Ascona). Invited speakers include: David Abrams (University of Pennsylvania), Willem-Paul Brinkman (Technical University Delft), Rosaria Conte (Institute for Cognitive Science and Technology Rome), Molly Crockett (University of Oxford), Paul Slovic (University of Oregon), John Sullins (Sonoma State University), Ann Tenbrunsel (University of Notre Dame), Nicole Vincent (Georgia State University) and others.

Call for abstracts: We welcome proposals for both papers and posters from all disciplines dealing with moral technologies (empirical disciplines, engineering, social sciences, and humanities). Possible topics include theoretical, conceptual, scientific, technological, ethical, and political issues and problems related to moral technologies. For example, proposals may present research on new types or the effectiveness of moral technologies, as well as assessments of the legitimacy of such interventions in concrete social contexts such as parenting, prisons, and companies.

To submit a paper proposal, send us your name & affiliation, the title of the paper, and a brief abstract (~500 words). To submit a poster proposal, send us your name, the title of the poster, and an executive summary (~200 words). Please send all proposals to:

Deadline for submissions is January 31, 2016. Notification of acceptance is February 29, 2016.


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Conference details: The conference fee will include all costs for the stay (food & lodging) during the 5-day conference and will be approximately CHF 850; special reductions for PhD students may apply (numbers are subject to change). The conference is funded by the Congressi Stefano Franscini, the Cogito Foundation, and the University Research Priority Program Ethics of the University of Zurich. The organizing committee consists of Mark Alfano (Delft University of Technology), Markus Christen (University of Zurich), Darcia Narvaez (University of Notre Dame), Peter Schaber (University of Zurich), Carmen Tanner (Zeppelin University), Giuseppe Ugazio (University of Zurich), Jeroen van den Hoven (Delft University of Technology), and Roberto Weber (University of Zurich).

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