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the scenario from the science fiction series Torchwood: Miracle Day (2011), in which all human

beings cease dying. Government officials, who had secretly planned for this contingency, had

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built furnaces for permanently burning those deemed not worthy of living anymore, such as the

extremely ill or extremely old. If VNT is true, it is permissible to build such death furnaces in

preparation for such a contingency, since these furnaces are morally neutral. Only their use can

be deemed good or bad. If VNT is true, in extreme circumstances, such extreme technological

solutions may be acceptable. But if VNT is false, and Katz’s argument is right, then gas chambers

for mass killing of zombies or furnaces for mass disposing of living people or corpses are

inherently evil. Hence, they should not be built even in extremely pressing conditions (in the

Holocaust, Jews were descried by Nazis as sub-humans, just like the zombies or the barely living

in the fictional examples). Conversely: if a technology is laden with good values, it should be

generally preferred over other solutions.

VNT proponents might object that engineers should refrain from constructing death

camps not because death camps embed evil values, but because engineers should reasonably

expect value-neutral death camps to be used for evil ends. Expectations of possible negative uses

of a neutral technology, however, provide a weaker reason to refrain from constructing it than

its embodying negative values. If VNT is correct, there must be both negative and positive uses

 

 

 

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for death camps. Otherwise, how are they neutral? If VNT is correct, then, when deciding whether

to construct death camps, engineers must weigh the possible negative and positive uses against

each other. Such alleged positive reasons make the case from possible uses against constructing

death camps weaker than the case from the evil values embedded in death camps.

Moreover, we can always conceive of some positive uses or outcomes for even the most

evil practices. On the one hand, slavery robs humans of their dignity, autonomy and bodily

integrity; on the other hand, it creates economic growth and reduces prices. But when we

morally evaluate slavery, we do not weigh its harms against its benefits, but deem it evil

regardless of its alleged benefits. The same goes for death camps.

8. Conclusion

Pitt’s defense of the value-neutrality of technology is unsuccessful. Due to their physical

properties, technological artifacts are part of the normative order, rather than external to

it. Technology designers and constructors cannot evade moral responsibility for the

consequences of their products by arguing that they are morally neutral, and only their users

may be culpable for using them in certain ways.

Outside STS and philosophy of technology, technology is often assumed to be value-

neutral, thus the development of technology, as opposed to its uses, escapes ethical debate.14

Unlike STS scholars, philosophers with traditional training in ethics typically lack the concepts

and sensibilities to deal with the moral dimensions of technology (Jonas 1973). But surprisingly,

within STS, explicit normative assessment of technology is rare. Most published books and

research papers in STS restrict themselves to descriptive and methodological claims, and refrain

from making prescriptions, condemnation, or praise of technology; “academics—particularly in

the field of science studies—have not done [work] in making plain the harms that inhere in and

are produced by particular kinds of technologies” (Moore 2019: 20).15 This paper stressed ways

 

 

 

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