Dr. S. (Stephen) Rainey


Stephen Rainey is a Lecturer in the Philosophy and Ethics of Technology department at the Delft University of Technology.

Stephen is a philosopher, with interests in the philosophy of language, mind, and rationality, who applies philosophical analysis to real world situations. He has lectured in philosophy in the UK and Ireland, and worked as a research fellow in a variety of European Commission-funded research projects including ETICA while based in Belgium, the Human Brain Project while at De Montfort University in England, and as co-PI in BrainCom while a research fellow at the University of Oxford. In these roles, he developed theories of ethical governance for emerging technologies, and explored philosophical and ethical puzzles about neurotechnology and brain machine interfaces. He works as an ethical and scientific evaluator for the European Commission, contributing to research funding instruments like FP7, Horizon 2020, and Horizon Europe.


Dr Rainey’s research since 2015 has been focussed on neuro-philosophy, examining how philosophical and ethical analysis can illuminate concepts in neuroscience, neurotechnology, and psychiatry. This intersects with other longstanding interests in artificial intelligence and technological simulation of behaviour. These research interests have led to lots of interdisciplinary work with neuroscientists, engineers, psychologists, and computer scientists. He also maintains research interests in theories of governance and political dimensions of technology innovation.

Dr Rainey supports a variety of courses in the department, including Ethics and Engineering for Aerospace Engineering, Social and Scientific Values, Values in ICT, Philosophy, Technology Assessment and Ethics, Understanding Organisations, Philosophy of Engineering Science and Design

  • This paper examines some dimensions of BCI mediated action that are significantly different to conventional cases. These relate to control. Specifically, to limits in both controllability of BCIs via neural states, and in foreseeability of outcomes from such actions.
  • This paper notes challenges in the integration of neural technologies into psychiatry and suggests vigilance particularly in respect to normative challenges. In this way, psychiatry can avoid a drift toward reductive technological approaches, while nonetheless benefitting from promising advances in neuroscience and technology.
  • This paper explores whether brain reading technologies are really mind reading technologies. If they are, ethical ways to deal with them must be developed. If they are not, researchers and technology developers need to find ways to describe them more accurately, in order to dispel unwarranted concerns and address appropriately those that are warranted.
  • This paper explores the interrelation of technological advance, and policy development as it asks: is the European Data Protection Regulation sufficient to deal with emerging data concerns relating to neurotechnology? This is pressing especially in a context of rapid advancement in the fields of brain computer interfaces (BCIs), where devices that can function via recorded brain signals are expanding from research labs, through medical treatments, and beyond into consumer markets for recreational uses
  • This paper shows how technology might interact with speaker intent in cases of delegated action, and how it should be seen as participating in the implementation of user "instructions" on an analogy with the legal concept of vicarious responsibility.
  • I am fond of this paper as it was my first publication. It explores some details in the philosophy of language from the 1950s, relating advances made in that time to more contemporary accounts of linguistic meaning in the thought of Jürgen Habermas and Robert Brandom.

Stephen Rainey


Values, Technology and Innovation

Ethics & Philosophy of Technology Innovation

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