Toward a Philosophy and Ethics of Persuasive Technology
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This thesis is about persuasive technology, which is technology that is intentionally designed to change people's attitudes, behavior, or both. In the first part, a conceptual analysis is given of 'persuasion', and 'persuasive technology' with the help of the psychological 'elaboration likelihood model' of persuasion. This ELM distinguishes two routes to persuasion: the central route and the peripheral rout. In this thesis, it is argued that persuasion is characterized by leaving open the possibility for the recipient to take the central route, although the actual route taken might also be the peripheral. It is shown that this way to define a core or underlying principle of persuasion enables to account for the broadness of the phenomenon of persuasion. In the second part, four initial attempts at developing a framework for an ethics of persuasive technology are discussed and slightly modified and extended into a new framework. In this framework, the distinction between methods of technological persuasion, target change, and final end served by that target change is crucial. Finally, the potential impact of persuasive technology on personal autonomy is investigated.