Future value change: identifying realistic possibilities and risks
By Jeroen Hopster
The co-shaping of technology and values is a topic of increasing interest among philosophers of technology. Part of this interest pertains to anticipating future value change, or what Danaher (2021) calls the investigation of ‘axiological futurism’. However, this investigation faces a challenge: ‘axiological possibility space’ is vast, and we currently lack a clear account of how this space should be demarcated. It stands to reason that speculations about how values might change over time should exclude farfetched possibilities and be restricted to possibilities that can be dubbed realistic. But what does this realism criterion entail? This article introduces the notion of ‘realistic possibilities’ as a key conceptual advancement to the study of axiological futurism and offers suggestions as to how realistic possibilities of future value change might be identified. Additionally, two slight modifications to the approach of axiological futurism are proposed. First, axiological futurism can benefit from a more thoroughly historicized understanding of moral change. Secondly, when employed in service of normative aims, the axiological futurist should pay specific attention to identifying realistic possibilities that come with substantial normative risks.
Prometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation
Volume 38, Issue 1