Cover of Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology
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1. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 17 > Issue: 3
Joseph Pitt Letter from the Editor-in-Chief
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2. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 17 > Issue: 3
Linda Johansson The Pragmatic Robotic Agent
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Can artifacts be agents in the same sense as humans? This paper endorses a pragmatic stance to that issue. The crucial question is whether artifacts can have free will in the same pragmatic sense as we consider humans to have a free will when holding them responsible for their actions. The origin of actions is important. Can an action originate inside an artifact, considering that it is, at least today, programmed by a human? In this paper it is argued that autonomy with respect to norms is crucial for artificial agency.
3. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 17 > Issue: 3
Golfo Maggini Bodily Presence, Absence, and their Ethical Challenges: Towards a Phenomenological Ethics of the Virtual
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In this paper I deal with Hubert Dreyfus’s phenomenological ethics regarding information technologies and the use of the Internet. From the 1990s on, Dreyfus elaborates a multi-faceted model of ethical expertise which may find a paradigmatic field of application in the ways in which information technologies transform our sense of personal identity, as well as our view of ethical integrity and commitment. In his 2001 On the Internet, Dreyfus investigates further several of the ideas already present in his groundbreaking 1997 Disclosing New Worlds. A phenomenological ethics of the virtual aims at going beyond both the objectivist ideal of moral universalism, which departs from the dominant Cartesianism both in epistemology and in ethics, as well as from the postmodernist, Nietzsche-inspired moral relativism. By referring back to existentialism, especially to Kierkegaard, and to phenomenology, especially to Heidegger’s hermeneutic phenomenology, Dreyfus sketches a model of ethical expertise which can be particularly useful for internet users and researchers, as it combines a phenomenological anthropology of the virtual with a theory of cultural innovation and change. In my view, Dreyfus’s model may help overcome the strict either determinist or relativist accounts of the ethical challenges posed by information technologies. By endorsing a strongly anti-intellectualist view of information technologies, Dreyfus poses the necessity of identity and ethical integrity not only as abstract principles that require rational justification, but also as context-bound everyday practices that are in conformity with the “style” of a culture and several disclosive activities within it.
4. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 17 > Issue: 3
Bonnie Talbert Screened Conversations: Technologically Mediated Interactions and Knowledge of Other Minds
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Social scientists have documented some recent, dramatic changes in the nature of our social lives. Many scholars have thought that our reliance on technology to communicate with others is in large part responsible for that loss. However, there is also data to support the opposite conclusion—it might be the case that social networking technologies have helped, rather than hindered our social interactions. What I would like to propose is a philosophical argument, which I hope will offer a different sort of answer to the questions about whether we know people in the same ways, or perhaps more or less well, than we once did, in the days before Facebook, email, and such. Whether or not technology has enhanced our social lives, it is worth considering whether coming to know another person is a different sort of exercise than it used to be, when face-to-face interactions with others were the preferred way to find out what was going on in someone else’s life. What is different in sharing my thoughts, beliefs, feelings, desires, and such with another over the Internet versus in person? Is there any kind of knowledge that is available only in a face-to-face context? If so, what is the nature of that knowledge? In philosophical terms, what I want to examine is how our knowledge of others’ minds changes with various technologies that we use to communicate the contents of our mental states.
5. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 17 > Issue: 3
Pak-Hang Wong The Public and Geoengineering Decision-Making: A View from Confucian Political Philosophy
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In response to the Royal Society report’s claim that “the acceptability of geo­engineering will be determined as much by social, legal, and political issues as by scientific and technical factors” (Geoengineering the Climate: Science, Governance and Uncertainty [London: Royal Society, 2009], ix), a number of authors have suggested the key to this challenge is to engage the public in geoengineering decision-making. In effect, some have argued that inclusion of the public in geoengineering decision-making is necessary for any geoengineering project to be morally permissible. Yet, while public engagement on geoengineering comes in various forms, the discussion in geoengineering governance and the ethics of geoengineering have too often conceptualized it exclusively in terms of public participation in decision-making, and supported it by various liberal democratic values. However, if the predominant understanding of public engagement on—or, the role of the public in—geoengineering decision-making is indeed only grounded on liberal democratic values, then its normative relevance could be challenged by and in other ethical-political traditions that do not share those values. In this paper, I shall explore these questions from a Confucian perspective. I argue that the liberal democratic values invoked in support of the normative importance of public participation are, at least, foreign to Confucian political philosophy. This presents a prima facie challenge to view public participation in geoengineering decision-making as a universal moral requirement, and invites us to reconsider the normative significance of this form of public engagement in Confucian societies. Yet, I contend that the role of the public remains normatively significant in geoengineering governance and the ethics of geoengineering from a Confucian perspective. Drawing from recent work on Confucian political philosophy, I illustrate the potential normative foundation for public engagement on geoengineering decision-making.
6. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 17 > Issue: 3
Sven Ove Hansson A Milestone in the Philosophy of Technology
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