Conceptual Disruption and the Ethics of Technology

Jeroen Hopster, Philip Brey, Michael Klenk, Guido Löhr, Samuela Marchiori, Björn Lundgren, Kevin Scharp

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


This chapter provides a theoretical lens on conceptual disruption. It offers a typology of conceptual disruption, discusses its relation to conceptual engineering, and sketches a programmatic view of the implications of conceptual disruption for the ethics of technology. We begin by distinguishing between three different kinds of conceptual disruptions: conceptual gaps, conceptual overlaps, and conceptual misalignments. Subsequently, we distinguish between different mechanisms of conceptual disruption, and two modes of conceptual change. We point out that disruptions may be induced by technology, but can also be triggered by intercultural exchanges. Conceptual disruptions frequently yield conceptual uncertainty and may call for conceptual and ethical inquiry. We argue that a useful approach to address conceptual disruptions is to engage in conceptual engineering. We outline what conceptual engineering involves and argue that discussions on conceptual disruption and conceptual engineering can benefit from closer integration. In closing, we discuss the relevance of studying conceptual disruption for technology ethics, and point to the promise of this line of research to innovate practical philosophy at large.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEthics of Socially Disruptive Technologies
Subtitle of host publicationAn Introduction
EditorsIbo van de Poel
PublisherOpen Book Publishers
Pages141 - 162
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-80511-057-6
ISBN (Print)978-1-80511-017-0, 978-1-80511-016-3
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2023


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