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Table 3 A summary of patterns of ethical argumentation (adapted from[39]) f

From: Examining the ethical and social issues of health technology design through the public appraisal of prospective scenarios: a study protocol describing a multimedia-based deliberative method

Consequences (hoped for)



Promises (e.g., increased control over the world and increased well-being)

Plausibility (uncertainty)

Adverse side effects (cost/benefit)

Can the good not be produced otherwise (e.g., search for alternative)

Is the envisioned good really a good

Unforeseen problems will be solved by future solutions

Rights and principles (tensions between the individual and the collective)

Positive right to the technology (e.g., people should have access to the technology)

Principle is wrong

Principle is null in another culture/setting

Principle is right in the abstract, but does not apply to the issue Principle is right, but it supports the opposite conclusion, or it conflicts with another one that is more pressing

Negative right to the technology (e.g., free to acquire it as long as it does not harm others)

Justice (distributing the costs and benefits)

Different bases: Equality; Merit; Need; Chance

Through trickle down effects, technology will benefit the whole society

Without political intervention, those in need or who are economically disenfranchised will never benefit

Good life

Humankind should move forward/upward

Knowing when/where to stop (‘not to play God’)

Respecting natural limits (not create ‘monsters’)

Preserving humanness and pushing it to flourish ‘as-it-is’

Social problems cannot be solved by technical fixes

Technology cannot be controlled

Frontiers/limits can be transgressed

Promethean vision

Relationship between technology and morality

Deterministic (technology’s internal logic)

Voluntarists (technology is socially malleable)

External forces too strong (markets, economies, scientific competition)

Technology is steerable in a morally desirable direction

Pessimists (technology as a moral problem)

Technology is already immoral as it is

Technology will manoeuvre us (‘slippery slope’)

Optimists (technology as a moral solution)

Precedent (not novel moral issues)

Society will habituate itself