Philosophy of Technology


Technology is a very important force in modern society. From a philosophical perspective, it has two distinct cores. The instrumentality core is characterized by the purpose, function, and goals of a technological artifact.

Unlike science, which is concerned with the study of natural phenomena, technology is the study of human actions and rationality. This connection between action and rationality has been the focus of much philosophical thought.

A critical attitude predominated in the philosophical reflection of technology during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Most representatives of this critical attitude were schooled in the humanities and social sciences, and had little first-hand knowledge of engineering practice.

Many philosophers consider the impact of technology on culture to be the focus of their studies. However, some philosophers also address the role of technology in relation to the society. These studies are often based on analytic philosophy of science.

During the second half of the twentieth century, philosophy of technology developed in different directions. One trend is the incorporation of political aspects in technological thinking. Several philosophers have argued for democratizing technological development and for the inclusion of ordinary people in the technological process.

The other major trend is the use of the word technology in a value-laden sense. In particular, some authors argue that technology can have moral agency.

An important question to answer is whether there is a way to separate the descriptive and prescriptive aspects of technology. Disentangling this ambiguous notion is a task that is still underway.

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