Session 6: Reflecting on the philosophy of RRI

Speakers: Erik FisherJack StilgoeSimone van der Burg
Organisers: Vincent BlokRobert Braun, Merve Yorulmaz

“Why could we (the RRI/Responsibility/STS/philosophy of technology community) not prevent ‘post-truth’ to happen?” 

A sub-question to investigate: “Is a universalist aspiration of RRI grounded?” 

The philosophical aspects of RRI are undertheorized, and mainly approached from ethical vantage points. This session went beyond ethical questions related to technology and innovation, and reflected on how a research and innovation creates the world and what it is to be in this world as humans (in philosophical language “the ontology of RRI”) and also what knowledges (of the world) are produced (in philosophical language the epistemology of RRI).  

RRI is seen variably as a policy, an ethical guide or innovation praxis. Based on NH findings this “session” discussed and offer philosophical/ontological grounding to RRI by expand the theoretical understanding of RRI; potentially changing RRI perceptions from “policy” or “ethics” to philosophy; creating a novel connection to philosophy as a “way of seeing”. Our discursive inquiry went beyond ethics in RRI and ask theoretical questions pertaining to why the strong normative assumptions in technology/society confluence (democracy, societal engagement, co-creation, multi-/transdisciplinarity etc.) could not be grounded in praxis (neither in doing science, nor in research policy). 

We suggested to also open up the discussion towards a Global North/Global South divide, also incorporating some of the epistemic and ontological violence and injustice criticism (post-Spivak/Fricker) that are emerging against R&I and science that only incorporates Global North/Western vantage points. 

Read the Executive Summary

Watch the recorded session