Both available theories of ethics and actual practiced ethics of role-responsibility are deficient in addressing the socio-ethical dimension of socio-technological change.
Ethical theories are deficient since they either adress the intentions of individuals or the consequences of their intended action (or a combination of both) as the starting point of ethical responsibility. Technological change can neither be traced down to intentions of individuals nor can all intended or unintended consequences and side-consequences of technological change be related to a “responsible subject”.
Actual role responsibility of professional engineers and scientist in the context of technological change can not fully determine “who is responsible for what”.
An ethics of co-responsibility is required and can only be implemented through mechanisms well beyond the legal system.
You can download here two articles expanding on above issue
- In Memory of Karl-Otto Apel: the challenges of a universalistic ethics of co-responsibily : https://app.box.com/s/1iqk36l6o1zub2ccnzfmwdb9sf0tdmp1
2. My key note lecture at the first annual conference of the Society for the Study of Nanoscience and Emerging technologies addresses this issue.