3 Philosophical Perspectives on Technology

3 Philosophical Perspectives on Technology - Philosophical...

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Philosophical Perspectives on Technology: Instrumentalism and Determinism – The Computer and the Internet 1
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Instrumentalism and Determinism Do we have power over technology or does technology have power over us? What is the most powerful agent or force of change? Humans or machines? Ways of thinking about the answer to these questions are provided by two philosophical perspectives on technology and society: technological instrumentalism and technological determinism. 2
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Schedule 1. Technological Instrumentalism 2. Technological Determinism 3. Sherry Turkle – How Computers Change the Way we Think 4. Identify the philosophical bias of this week’s assigned articles: instrumentalism or determinism or both? 5. Soft Determinism/technological momentum 3
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Technological Instrumentalism 1. Technology is a Tool We have power over technology. Technology is an instrument that we develop and use We are rational users of technology. Technology is a 'tool' that serves the purpose of the person who uses it. Technology is a means to an end that we decide. We are “in control” of technology. 4
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Technological Instrumentalism 1. Technology is a Tool The computer is tool that humans developed for human use. Humans determined the many uses of personal computers and programmed computers to do a variety of functions We use word processing programs to type, correct, rearrange, or delete text in letters, memos, reports, and school assignments. We use spreadsheet programs to prepare tables, budgets and undertake mathematical calculations. We use computers for a variety of entertainment purposes. We are essentially in control of computers. It is a tool that we use. 5
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Technological Instrumentalism 2: Technology is Morally Neutral, but our use of it is not Technology is not inherently “good” or “bad.” Technology is beyond moral categories because it is inanimate. Technology is 'neutral,' without moral content. Since humans are moral creatures and technology is not, technology’s morality is in its human use. Technology is an instrument which we use for good or evil. 6
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Technological Instrumentalism 2: Technology is Morally Neutral, but our use of it is not While the computer is value-neutral hardware and software, the human uses of computers are not. Scientific research vs. porn research Child education vs. child mystification Virus vs. anti-virus Enlightenment vs. ignorance Cyber-bullying vs. cyber-therapy Pedophilia vs. policing 7
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Technological Instrumentalism 3: The Technological Fix A quick, cheap fix to a problem using inappropriate technology (Rosner, 2004) One does not wait around trying to change people’s minds and ways. Instead, one engineers technology to deal with the social problem. Hardcore porn addiction –dysfunctional sexual relationships - soft
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This note was uploaded on 01/18/2012 for the course POLITICS POL 507 taught by Professor Mirlees during the Fall '11 term at Ryerson.

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3 Philosophical Perspectives on Technology - Philosophical...

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