The Role of Art in Moral-Emotional Reflection on Technological Risks, by Sabine Roeser

Current debates about technological risks such as nuclear energy, climate change and genetic modification are frequently heated and end up in stalemates, due to the scientific and moral complexities of these risks. In my previous research I have shown why and how taking emotions seriously is crucial in debates about technological risks, because emotions point out what morally matters. In this presentation I will examine the role that works of art can play in enticing moral emotions concerning technological risks. Works of art can enhance emotional moral reflection by making abstract problems more concrete, letting us broaden narrow personal perspectives, exploring new scenarios, going beyond boundaries and challenging our imagination.

Recently, artists have become involved with risky technologies, such as Adam Zaretsky in the context of genomics, and William Verstraeten, the artist who designed the acclaimed building of the Dutch nuclear waste organization, COVRA. Scholars from a variety of disciplines have started to study the role of art in relation to technology, but they do not focus on emotions. There are empirical studies on the role of images, narratives and emotions in climate change risk perception, but they do not focus on art. Philosophers who study the role of art for emotional-moral reflection focus on interpersonal relationships. However, the context of technological risks gives rise to important conceptual and normative questions about art and moral emotions. In this presentation I will sketch possible lines of philosophical investigation.

Sabine Roeser

Harvard Citation Guide: Roeser, S. (2014) The Role of Art in Moral-Emotional Reflection on Technological Risks, International Society for the Philosophy of Architecture, [blog] 19 May 2014, Available at: [Accessed: 01 June 2014].

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