Open Sourcing Normative Assumptions on Privacy and Other Moral Values in Blockchain Applications

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

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The moral significance of blockchain technologies is a highly debated and polarised topic, ranging from accusations that cryptocurrencies are tools serving only nefarious purposes such as cybercrime and money laundering, to the assessment of blockchain technology as an enabler for revolutionary positive social transformations of all kinds. Such technological determinism, however, hardly provides insights of sufficient depth on the moral significance of blockchain technology. This thesis argues rather, that very much like the cryptographic tools before them, blockchains develop in a constant feedback loop. Blockchain applications are driven by values, normative assumptions, and personal commitments of researchers, which shape moral effects of technology. At the same time these very assumption are often embedded in preexisting moral conception and ethical theories, implicitly or explicitly accepted by blockchain developers. And just as the introduction of one flawed element in the cryptographic application can have mass scale effects, the introduction of flawed normative assumptions can have far reaching consequences in blockchain applications.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • van den Hoven, M.J., Supervisor
  • Pesch, U., Advisor
Award date10 Jul 2019
Print ISBNs978-94-028-1595-5
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • data ethics
  • data protection
  • norms
  • privacy
  • blockchain


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