While societal controversy is often seen as a barrier for technological development, we take the position that controversies can be useful for guiding and steering these developments. Controversies articulate the conflicting values at stake and reveal unanticipated societal and ethical risks. A common reaction to public controversies is to counter public responses to technology with facts and experts' conclusions. Formal assessment methods such as Environmental Impact Assessment, (social) Cost Benefit Analysis and Risk Assessment are often used as an expert-based approach to inform decisionmaking on large energy projects. These methods are, however, predominantly (and sometimes solely) warranting one single value, being sustainability, utility or safety. Due to their inability to address the wide and variable range of values, formal assessment methods often become debated, for instance because their scope and process is not considered appropriate for the project at hand. As such they can be seen as imperfect (and sometimes even counterproductive) in supporting socially responsible public-private decision-making for energy projects. We argue that project developers and policy makers need to enrich the assessment of energy projects by acknowledging the broad range of values that emerge from such controversies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of 2016 IEEE International Symposium on Ethics in Engineering, Science and Technology, ETHICS 2016
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781509023172
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2016
Event2016 IEEE International Symposium on Ethics in Engineering, Science and Technology, ETHICS 2016 - Vancouver, Canada
Duration: 13 May 201614 May 2016

Conference

Conference2016 IEEE International Symposium on Ethics in Engineering, Science and Technology, ETHICS 2016
CountryCanada
CityVancouver
Period13/05/1614/05/16

    Research areas

  • assessment methods, controversy, environmental impact assessment, public values

ID: 7418610