Are there any absolutely safe products and technologies? Is it largely by technology that contemporary society hangs together? In which way technology is important not only as an economic force but also as a cultural force? What is the exact impact of technology on society? This entry focuses on the latter branch of the philosophy of technology.
Should we ask not only what is the place of technology in, and its meaning for, human society, human culture, and human existence but also about foundational issues in its relation with scienceβsuch as the reality of atoms, the status of causality and probability, questions of space and time, the nature of the quantum world?
Could technology be the sum total of rational action? Should we deplore the hold that technology has on modern society due to its forcing all aspects of human life within the mould of a single narrowed-down criterion of rationality: maximum efficiency? What is the basis of the negative judgments of technology?
Can we recognize in technology the emergent single dominant way of answering all questions concerning human action, comparable to science as the single dominant way of answering all questions concerning human knowledge? Is technology applied science, or is it about action, but an action heavily underpinned by theory? What distinguishes technology from the arts and crafts and puts it on a par with science?
What is the difference between substantive theories, and operative theories, in technology? Is the tacit knowledge of Michael Polanyi indeed a central characteristic of technology? Is technology a continuous attempt to bring the world closer to the way it is to be? Does science aims to understand the world as it is and technology aims to change it, as a service to the public? Is the widely spread picture of technology as being instrumental, only delivering instruments that will be used elsewhere justified?
Is technology a practice focused on the creation of artifacts and artifact-based services and what is the importance of the design process of this creation? Is it easy to distinguish between technological action and action in general? What are the consequences of the fact that in modern technology almost all design is done by teams of experts from many disciplines?
Does each discipline has its own theories, its own models of interdependencies and its own assessment criteria, and so forth? What is the status and the character of artifacts as man-made objects made to serve a purpose? Does the notion of an artifact’s function refers necessarily to human intentions? Is it possible to ignore the possibility of the malfunctioning of the various components of an artifact?
Are the undesirable consequences of technology to be attributed to the users of technology, rather than the technology itself, or its developers? What is the instrumental vision of technology and the so-called neutrality thesis? Why did this neutrality thesis met with severe critique by thinkers such as Heidegger, Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse, and Habermas?
What is the contribution of other conceptualizations of technology – as a political phenomenon (Winner, Feenberg, Sclove), as a social activity (Latour, Callon, Bijker and others in the area of science and technology studies), as a cultural phenomenon (Ihde, Borgmann), as a professional activity (engineering ethics, e.g., Davis), or as a cognitive activity (Bunge, Vincenti)?
How can be explained the enormous increase in the number and scope of ethical questions that are asked about technology? Is there a limited interaction and discussion between different strands in the ethics of technology, like the ethics of engineering, the ethics of specific technologies (such as computer ethics) and approaches that remain primarily inspired by the traditional philosophy of technology?
Does technology have any moral agency? Is technology merely a tool that cannot possess ethical qualities? Does “science think”? In what ways does technology extend or curtail the power of individuals, and how are ethics standards challenged/altered by new capabilities (cloning, newborn genetic screening, RFID, biometric analysis and identification).
Orgburn’s “cultural lag crisis”. Conflict between speed of modern technology advances and the much slower speed of developing ethical guidelines for their utilization. The adaptive aspect. Dangers of a lag between Technology Ethics and social consensus. Implications of new technologies for privacy rights, e-commerce, control of essential resources, social definitions of life. Development: is it Always? Never? Contextually? right or wrong to invent and implement a technological innovation (the case of nuclear weapons)?
Cloning. Genetics. Health Technology assessment. Intrinsic & Instrumental value. Novel Foods. “My computer made me do it”? The Internet.
Zero tolerance for the technologically “unsavvy”. Technology and the “good life”. Fertility drugs. Worker surveillance. Security of banking transactions.
Pharmacogenomics, ethics and public policy, possibilities and threats to the health care system. The question of Access. Genetic testing and genetic counselling. Genetically modified organisms/food and their future. Gene Patenting. Ability to intervene in human genetics in the example of Huntington’s disease.
Induced pluripotent Stem cells and the questions they raise about cloning, privacy, informed consent. Stem cells, moral status and California Proposition 71. Do embryos have any moral status? Therapeutic potential of the stem cells, the treatment of diabetes. Human cloning: scientific, ethical, religious perspectives. Biological, medical, legal, engineering, technology aspects. “If we can, we should”. “If we can, we will”. Are these legitimate mottos for medicine? State regulation of cloning.
Neuro-ethics, on using brain-boosting drugs. Adderall: enhancement or cheating? The future of neuroscience, possible changes in prediction, litigation, confidentiality/privacy, patents. Politics and science. Xenotransplantation.
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