Social Philosophy, Technology,
and Modern Life
Alan R. Drengson
"Four Philosophies of Technology" Philosophy Today (Summer 1982): 103-117
in Larry Hickman, ed., Technology as a Human Affair (McGraw Hill 1990), pp. 25-40
- "A creative activity
of conceptual inquiry which frees us of attachment to specific models and
doctrines in order to develop more appropriate cultural practices."
- "...a way of life..."
- "...a sort of jazz
played with concepts."
Attitudes towards technology:
Shape it, the Society we construct, and Ourselves:
- Characteristic of the
19th Century, and still, perhaps, international development
- Technology and technological
knowledge are good and benefit humanity (produce wealth, power, and tames
- Ends justify the means.
- Rapid development, and
technology as a central force in social processes
- Technology as an end
- Our "life game"
- Identification with technology-
it becomes an extension of ourselves
- Creates a infrastuctural
web in which we and the technics we create are enmeshed
- Paradoxical frustration
of human values- it begins to dominate us.
- Threat to existence
- Realization of the need
to return to human values and autonomy.
- Rejection of technology:
- Revitalization human
scale/based technologies: arts, crafts, etc.
- Realization of the relationship
between technology and ourselves: control and spontaneity
- A maturing of the reciprocal
relationships between people, technology and the world
- Reflection on values
and goals prior to the development of new technologies
- Preservation of diversity
- Promotion of interaction
between people, technics and the environment
sound in the generation and use of energy"
- Balanced use of resources
- Promotion of human development
through the use of technics
- 4 levels of innovation
- Technological modification:
- Technological hybridization:
combining existing technologies
- Technological mutation:
transformation of technology to another form or for another purpose
- Technological mastery
and creation: transcends technology and our dependence on it
to Basics: Science and Technology- Similarities, Differences, and Interdependence
- Outputs: Technics and
related constructs versus knowledge and theoretical explanation
- Function: Expansion of
the realm of humanly possible versus enhance our understanding of nature
- Technology: Need
or desire, design, production and use.
- Science: The Scientific
between Science and Technology
- Ancient World: little
connection at all, technology precedes science.
- Through the 1600's: Different
paths, typically technology influencing scientific development
- Development of scientific
- Exception: Leonardo
da Vinci (1452-1519)
- Sir Francis Bacon
(1561-1626): Ground technological development in scientific understanding
- 17th- Early 19th Centuries:
Interdependence, but still technology==> science
- Scientific instruments:
Lenses, Clock, Telescope
- New world view for
science: Technological Metaphor- The Machine, Understand the Whole through
- Scientific research
agenda: Problems of technological practice- especially for emerging industries
- Technological devices==>
Scientific "Revolutions" (static electrical generator- battery-
discovery of magnetic fields)
- Science==> Technology:
- 19th Century:
- Rise of Science Based
Industry (dyes and electrical)
- Birth of the Industrial
Research Laboratory ( Faraday's electromagnetic induction and subsequent
public power station==> Edison and the residential electrical lighting
- Early 20th Century
- Growth of the Industrial
Research Laboratory: 692 in USA by 1918
- Growing dependence
of technology on science, yet not total: Economic and political concerns-
propeller design, flight suits, even the A-bomb relied on trial and error.
- Growing dependence-
perhaps even symbiosis.
- An enterprise and process
versus a possession and a state.
- Continuing, and typically
- Movement away from equilibrium:
technological solutions become new starting points.
- Rapid spread and global
- Ends/Means circularity:
New technologies==> produce new needs and desires.
as an inherent drive
- Demographic trends
- Search for even more
improvement: unlimited possibilities
- Force and relationship
- Drain of resources: multiplication
of goods and the growth of technological apparatus
- Artificiality (The city:
- Technics that cater
to the senses and the mind.
- Growth from electronic
technology to electronics==> Information
- Question of the
obsolescence of man: automation and work, AI and decision making
- Produces a strain
on Nature itself
(Robert McGinn: "Science,
Technology, and Society")
- Massive, Institutionally
based and lone practitioners
- "Applied science"
- Rigourous quantitative
experimentation and qualitative description
- Complexity- many parts
and hierarchal arrangement (interdepent and differentiated): not just the
number of parts.
including sociotechnical support systems
- Production specialization
- Formalized Technical
Procedures- becoming a dominate product (as compared to technics): computer
- Socio-technical Systems
Analysis: studies of how things fit together.
- Theory dependent
of These Activities
feature of science and technology in the twentieth century is the tremendous
expansion and consolidation of the housing of scientific and technological activities
in an extensive network of firmly established, substantial-sized formal organizations."
- Organizational structure
- Formal /professional
- Formalized training
- Increasingly large
and diverse stock
- Natural, yet more
and more artificial
- Products of the technological
More Natural Phenomena
are Becoming Scientifically Investigated and Manipulated (improvements in
1st Order (those with which
inputs are transformed)
- Wide variety, and increasing
complexity: power tools
- Tremendous growth and
2nd Order (those which
direct the use of 1st order resources)
- Focus on technological
"knowledge" (a second kind- "methods")
- Sources: observation,
experimentation, scientific understanding, intuition
- Contemporary: formal
scientific research dominates- still tempered with experimentation and intuition.
- Technological knowledge
is created often without specific practical application: A "Global technological
- Numbers increasing, as
a proportion of the population. No sign of stabilization. Today approximately
- Collaboration and Teamwork
(still room for the individual)
- Scientists and engineers
- Increased Training and
Big everything: # of products,
organizational size, impact.
- Airbus, Space Shuttle,
- International consortiums
Ellul: The Technological Order
Owner: Robert O. Keel: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, February 2, 2011 14:32