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Intuitive Ethics and Sensitive Technologies

Periodic Report Summary - INEST (Intuitive ethics and sensitive technologies)

The broad objective of the INEST project was to advance the understanding of factors underlying public perceptions of sensitive technologies - technologies whose implications intersect with social values and challenge presumptions about the natural order and sanctity of life. It was intended to move the field beyond static descriptions of public opinion to the dynamics of intuitive (public) ethics, characterised by social values, moral dilemmas and competing world views. An interdisciplinary framework was developed integrating findings from studies of technology perception with theories and concepts from moral psychology, social psychology, anthropology and sociology. This framework guided a programme of empirical research that included quantitative and qualitative analyses of intuitive ethics and a case study on synthetic biology. The publications resulting from the project address:
(a) public views of sensitive technologies, with a focus on intuitive logics as a characteristic of everyday sense-making processes;
(b) intuitive reasoning on the 'natural' and the 'unnatural';
(c) sense-making processes in the context of a new and unknown technology such as synthetic biology; and
(c) experiences of women in science and technology.