Seminar: Fabian Scholtes on moral knowledge in technology-based development

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Fabian Scholtes, Centre for Development Research, Bonn gives a STEPS Centre seminar entitled Moral values and Solar Panels: moral knowledge in technology-based development For more information see: http://www.steps-centre.org/events/stepsseminars.html

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Seminar: Fabian Scholtes on moral knowledge in technology-based development

  1. 1. Outline <ul><li>Fabian Scholtes, Centre for Development Research, Bonn </li></ul><ul><li>Moral values and Solar Panels: </li></ul><ul><li>moral knowledge in technology-based development </li></ul><ul><li>Introduction: why look at the morality-technology nexus </li></ul><ul><li>Observations: development and the practice of moral norms and values </li></ul><ul><li>Moral knowledge: a concept for empirical research </li></ul><ul><li>The moral facet of solar panels </li></ul>Fabian Scholtes: On Moral Values and Solar Panels: Moral knowledge in technology-based development – STEPS, Oct. 31, 2008
  2. 2. Background <ul><li>General objective: understand better how micro interaction works in development practice </li></ul><ul><li>Focus 1: moral values as ubiquitous but ambivalent aspect in a moral-political field </li></ul><ul><li>Focus 2: technology-based development – renewable energy technologies (RETs) </li></ul><ul><li>Focus 3: hinterland of Northeast Brazil – the poorhouse in a regional superpower </li></ul><ul><li>Focus 4: local practices around the socio-cultural installation and integration of tangible technological systems </li></ul><ul><li>Link to STEPS: the S/sustainability of RETs </li></ul>Fabian Scholtes: On Moral Values and Solar Panels: Moral knowledge in technology-based development – STEPS, Oct. 31, 2008
  3. 3. The morality/technology nexus <ul><li>Insights from STS </li></ul><ul><li>The ‚morality‘ of a weighty hotelroom key and a fast-closing door-spring: pre-scription and ethics delegated to things </li></ul><ul><li>Socio-cultural life-cycle of technological devices/systems: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>from design to use and re-configuration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>co-constructions of/according to purposes and meanings </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The morality of green technology: ‚morality made durable, and to be installed durably‘ – but subject to life-cycle </li></ul><ul><li>=> nexus for this research: ambivalence of ‚good technology‘ as a materialisation of the ambivalence of ‚development‘ </li></ul>Fabian Scholtes: On Moral Values and Solar Panels: Moral knowledge in technology-based development – STEPS, Oct. 31, 2008
  4. 4. Development and morality <ul><li>Assumptions </li></ul><ul><li>Moral: oughts/obligations, as related to (interaction with) others => formal, analytical, external concept </li></ul><ul><li>Practice of moral norms/values vs. moral practice </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Evidence’ from the literature: strands of ambivalence </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Undermining/instrumentalising e.g. ‘participation’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Moral discrepancies and struggle at social/cultural interfaces </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Brokerage/translation: moral boundary concepts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Emergence of moral order from contestation and improvisation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discursive moral structure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Limits to ‘orderly’ and moral practice </li></ul></ul>Fabian Scholtes: On Moral Values and Solar Panels: Moral knowledge in technology-based development – STEPS, Oct. 31, 2008
  5. 5. The ‚technical code‘ <ul><li>A classical double-bind of donor agencies‘ policy: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Get them in the driver‘s seat (it‘s about their ownership/Sustainability)... </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>... to go the way we want them to (we have to account for success ) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Stage development as technical fix/support </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Hide donor‘s influence in technical rationality of means </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Maintain partner‘s autonomy </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Technical code as meta-code that enables negotiation (rather than depoliticisation) </li></ul><ul><li>=> Technical, but nevertheless moral (liberally ‚neutral‘) discourse as constructive repertory </li></ul>Fabian Scholtes: On Moral Values and Solar Panels: Moral knowledge in technology-based development – STEPS, Oct. 31, 2008
  6. 6. Facets of practice <ul><li>Moral values as social structure: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>restrictive (norms) and enabling (orientation) frame </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>repertory: strategic and cooperative (boundary objects) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Agency: affirmative, deviant, constructive </li></ul><ul><li>Agents: morally ‚and‘ strategically motivated </li></ul><ul><li>Ex.: participation : restricting policies, orienting practice, killer argument, unite diverse actors </li></ul>Fabian Scholtes: On Moral Values and Solar Panels: Moral knowledge in technology-based development – STEPS, Oct. 31, 2008
  7. 7. ‚ Moral knowledge‘ <ul><li>Why understand moral values as knowledge? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Differentiate from morality as condition or motivation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Capture the structural (frame) and agency (resource) aspect </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Capture intangible character and levels of consciousness (practical vs. discursive consciousness) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Differentiate/relate to other knowledges </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>know-that vs. know-how; empirical (causal/process vs. facts/state); </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>knowledge systems: local, expert, organisational, … </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>‘ Moral knowledge’: ensemble of moral norms and values that are relevant in context by ‘being known’ </li></ul><ul><li>A sociological approach, unlike moral epistemology! </li></ul>Fabian Scholtes: On Moral Values and Solar Panels: Moral knowledge in technology-based development – STEPS, Oct. 31, 2008
  8. 8. Operationalising <ul><li>Some insights from F. Barth’s Anthropology of Knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Stock of knowledge: what is known to be ‘good’, ‘just’ etc. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>elements are overlapping and distributed – who knows what? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ways of knowing (1) : the creation of stock and structure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>how elements are represented, communicated etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>how elements are attributed a moral status </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>how (new) elements are (re-) ordered and made coherence </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ways of knowing (2) : agency and the practice of structure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Implementation, orientation, use, manipulation, justification of choices, … </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Structuration: affirmation, critique, re-production </li></ul></ul><ul><li>=> ontologically, separating these is wrong! It is dialectical analysis. </li></ul>Fabian Scholtes: On Moral Values and Solar Panels: Moral knowledge in technology-based development – STEPS, Oct. 31, 2008
  9. 9. Application <ul><li>Where to find and research moral knowledge? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>ask for judgements/arguments; check moral codes </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>analyse performance of ethics in ‚moral breakdowns‘ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>observe management of daily dilemmas, conflicts etc. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>explicitly ethical set-ups (participation) vs. others </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>document developments of practice and of the moral status of </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>a policy, a practice, a project </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>an artefact or a socio-technological system ??? </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>Fabian Scholtes: On Moral Values and Solar Panels: Moral knowledge in technology-based development – STEPS, Oct. 31, 2008
  10. 10. Decentralised RETs: installed morality? <ul><li>“ Worldwide more than 1,6 billion people do not have access to electricity. 80 % of those live in rural areas. […] The provision of a stable and reliable access to electricity in rural areas […] becomes the foundation for development and progress. Electricity […] enables poor communities to take their destiny in their own hands. </li></ul><ul><li>[…] How can access to electricity and the fight against climate change be reconciled? Renewable energies are the solution. […]” </li></ul><ul><li>( Ernesto Macias, President, Alliance Rural Electrification ARE ) </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Empowerment: general infrastructure, purposes open </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Humanism: close to beneficiary, master of destiny </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Environmental soundness </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Productivism: create production, growth, employment </li></ul></ul></ul>Fabian Scholtes: On Moral Values and Solar Panels: Moral knowledge in technology-based development – STEPS, Oct. 31, 2008
  11. 11. Solar panels <ul><li>Public/collective uses </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Water pumping and storage </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Agricultural processing </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Street and public building lighting </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Community centre (solar ICT kiosk) </li></ul></ul></ul>Fabian Scholtes: On Moral Values and Solar Panels: Moral knowledge in technology-based development – STEPS, Oct. 31, 2008
  12. 12. Solar panels <ul><li>Public/collective uses </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Water pumping and storage </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Agricultural processing </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Street and public building lighting </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Community centre (solar ICT kiosk) </li></ul></ul></ul>Fabian Scholtes: On Moral Values and Solar Panels: Moral knowledge in technology-based development – STEPS, Oct. 31, 2008 <ul><li>Private uses </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>TV, radio, lamps, electric fan </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>small processing units </li></ul></ul></ul>
  13. 13. The co-construction of the morality of PV <ul><li>„ what is the device‘s moral legacy when being induced?“ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>who provides the technology? How do their intentions relate to ‚local‘ ones? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>using and making markets? imperialist modernisation? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>which are (inbuilt) long-term development intentions and justifications? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>standard of living, growth, climate change mitigation, ... </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>which are the intended uses and applications? What is their moral status? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>„ how are practices and people re-organised?“ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>autonomy of users vs. accountability, reponsibility, solidarity, ... </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>SolarHomeSystem vs. community panel </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Who benefits? distributive justice – man‘s gain? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>cultural change and the introduction of new values </li></ul></ul><ul><li>„ which moral meaning does the technology acquire?“ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a driver of individualisation? Of new dependence? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Which MK is practiced in this lifecycle, how, and how does it change? </li></ul>Fabian Scholtes: On Moral Values and Solar Panels: Moral knowledge in technology-based development – STEPS, Oct. 31, 2008
  14. 14. Discussion <ul><li>(How) does it make sense – and is it useful – to research the moral status and moral power of RET, or of technology in general? </li></ul><ul><li>(How) does it make sense to conceptualise the practice of moral norms and values as a practice of knowledge ? </li></ul><ul><li>How could sociologies of knowledge add/relate to this? </li></ul><ul><li>How could sociologies of technology add/relate to this? </li></ul><ul><li>Thank you! </li></ul><ul><li>Further comments are much appreciated: </li></ul><ul><li>Please email to mail@fabianscholtes.de </li></ul>Fabian Scholtes: On Moral Values and Solar Panels: Moral knowledge in technology-based development – STEPS, Oct. 31, 2008

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