Ethical Aspects

Technologies serve to fulfill human needs and desires. Their implementation, however, leads to an unavoidable flux of material and non-material goods which often adversely influence  humans and their environment.  Raw materials are extracted at one place, are transported to another for processing, and yet to another place for consumption, and finally are brought to a place of disposal. The impact these fluxes have often does not remain on a local level, both spatial and temporal, but leads  global and long term ramifications.  Particularly energy technologies have adverse side effect. Carbon dioxide emitted in fossile power plants, for example, may induce global climatic changes on a global scale with impact on future people.

In EET the ethical task therfore is twofold:

First, EET aims an ethical evaluation of different energy policies that rests on a reliable empirical basis. In quantifying human wellbeing, our main concern is not only with the preferences humans indeed have, rather we orient ourselves by the United Nations Human Development Index that rests on the welfare-ethical work by Sen and Nussbaum.

Second, our focus lies on the methaethical and epistemical questions concerning the issue of intergenerational justice. Ideas like sustainable developement or climate protecion presuppose obligations to future people. It is indisputable in the political as well as in the philosophical discussion that we have obligations to future people. Nevertheless it is not clear how these obligations can be grounded concidering the fact that these people are not alive yet.

Concideration of both, metaethical and normative questions, leads to a sound ethical foundation for the evaluation of energy strategies.