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Displaying: 1-20 of 510 documents


articles
1. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Daniel Vella, Stefano Gualeni Virtual Subjectivity: Existence and Projectuality in Virtual Worlds
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This paper draws on the notion of the ‘project,’ as developed in the existential philosophy of Heidegger and Sartre, to articulate an understanding of the existential structure of engagement with virtual worlds. By this philosophical understanding, the individual’s orientation towards a project structures a mechanism of self-determination, meaning that the project is understood essentially as the project to make oneself into a certain kind of being. Drawing on existing research from an existential-philosophical perspective on subjectivity in digital game environments, the notion of a ‘virtual subjectivity’ is proposed to refer to the subjective sense of being-in-the-virtual-world. The paper proposes an understanding of virtual subjectivity as standing in a nested relation to the individual’s subjectivity in the actual world, and argues that it is this relation that allows virtual world experience to gain significance in the light of the individual’s projectual existence. The arguments advanced in this paper pave the way for a comprehensive understanding of the transformative, self-transformative, and therapeutic possibilities and advantages afforded by virtual worlds.
2. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Murray Skees Aporia and Wonder in the Age of Big Data
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My argument in this paper is given in two parts. In Part I, I review the ancient understanding of aporia, focusing on works by Plato and Aristotle. I illustrate two ways of understanding aporia: “cathartic” and “zetetic.” Cathartic aporia refers to the experience of being purged of hubris and ignorance through the dialectic. Zetetic aporia, on the other hand, requires us to engage in, recognize, and work through certain philosophical puzzles or problems. In Part II, I discuss the idea of Big Data and then argue that in the “age of answers” neither conception of aporia appears to be necessarily cultivated by the average Internet user. Our experience of wonder suffers when we rely so heavily on the Internet as a “surrogate expert,” and when our social media use betrays the fact that we always seem to gravitate towards the like-minded.
3. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Julia M. Hildebrand On Self-Driving Cars as a Technological Sublime
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Driverless automobility presents a “technological sublime” (Marx 1964; Nye 1994, 1997) encompassing both promises and perils. The light side of the emerging transportation future lies, for instance, in the newly gained freedom from driving. The dark side of this sublime includes ethical challenges and potential harm resulting from the required socio-technical transformations of mobility. This article explores contemporary visions for the self-driving car future through the lens of the sublime and some of its theoretical variations, such as the natural (Kant 1965), technological (Marx 1964; Nye 1994, 1997), electrical (Carey and Quirk 1989), and digital (Mosco 2005) sublime. Nissan’s IDS Concept preview clip (2015) and the Chevrolet FNR trailer (2015) serve as examples for this analysis, which aims to demythologize the visual rhetoric of the depicted awe-inspiring self-driving systems. The sublime’s inherent dialectic of inducing both pleasure and displeasure is removed in the corporate utopian visions in favor of an exalting partnership between human and machine. This strategy succeeds by setting the mobility future in the context of controlled parameters such as the trustworthy communicative vehicle, the vital and independent protagonists, and the harmless and unharmed environment. Recognizing such recurring strategies and identifying the controlled parameters which allow the sublime object to electrify, not terrify, is key for a sensible engagement with such imagined futures and their social, cultural, political, economic, environmental, and ethical implications. Such premediations (Grusin 2010) of awe-inspiring technological formations and the underlying logics ask to be unpacked toward decision making that considers all potential facets of the sublime future.
4. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Gonzalo Abad, Aritz Milikua, Igor Baraia-Etxaburu Electric Technology in Wind Turbines from a Dialectic Perspective
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Wind turbines have been used by many groups of humans for many centuries. Wind turbines have allowed groups of humans to perform many different tasks in the past (grinding grain, pumping water, etc.). However, only a century and a half ago, they began to be used to convert the energy captured from wind into electric energy. Moreover, only approximately twenty-five years ago, we started to introduce on a massive scale the energy generated from wind turbines into the electric networks of most developed countries in the world for regular consumption. According to 2017 statistics, approximately 12 percent of the electric energy consumed in the EU is produced by wind turbines. Despite the fact that wind turbines generally appear quite similar externally—i.e., a three-blade structure, a nacelle, a tower, etc.—if we carefully examine the electric technology used within them, we find quite a wide range of technologies for energy conversion, which is a key issue in wind turbine technology. Hence, this paper adopts a dialectic perspective towards analyzing and understanding why several electric technologies coexist in wind turbine technology. We explain the specific factors that have influenced different wind turbine manufacturers to adopt different electric technologies across the last twenty-five years. We show how their actions and the technological directions that have followed have been mutually codetermined, resulting in a technological evolution that has produced today’s wind turbine variety.
5. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Yu-cheng Liu A Techno-Philosophical Perspective on How Acceleration Becomes Autopoietic: Simplification as a Function of Technology
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This study examines mainly two subjects: “Why do we accelerate?” and “How does acceleration become autopoietic?” The answers to these questions may be derived from technical, social, or psychological approaches. However, they provide only an incomplete picture if a perspective from the philosophy of technology is not considered alongside. In addition to offering different viewpoints on the essence of technology, technics, or technē, this study will focus on the notion of distance as a key to answering the above questions. Conventionally, people usually understand that technology distances humans from nature. However, what does that mean? First of all, the idea of “nature” considered in this research refers to a distinction of non-nature/nature. A distinction implies a distance between both sides. Technology belongs to the side of non-nature, and creates a distance with the other side. The distance is getting enlarged when humans depend heavily on technology to reconnect humans to nature. In shortening or overcoming the distance, acceleration becomes autopoietic and leads to a paradox that can be unfolded only through accelerating more. In this study, technology is considered as a system functioning as simplification to create and to overcome alternately a distance with its environment, including nature. Through which technology not only acquires a tendency of acceleration, but also self-produces it. The development of writing tools from knots to tactile technology is investigated to provide a better understanding of the phenomenon of acceleration and its impact on humans and the world. In the end, it may be possible to think of a general theory of how acceleration becomes autopoietic.
6. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Sadjad Soltanzadeh A Practically Useful Metaphysics of Technology
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In the past couple of decades, there has been a tendency to identify the study of artefacts as one of the central subject matters of philosophy of technology. This subject identification relies on a metaphysical distinction between artefacts and non-artefacts, and is supported by the premise that artefacts are philosophically significant in ways that non-artefacts are not. Here it is argued that if we want philosophy of technology to be practically useful, the artefact/non-artefact distinction is a misleading place to start, as this distinction is developed through a metaphysical approach which is of little use for practical decisions and evaluations. Instead, we need to adopt a different metaphysical approach which is practically useful. This alternative approach is called activity realism, as opposed to entity realism in light of which artefacts are defined. Activity realism provides a metaphysical foundation for a practically useful philosophy of technology.
book review
7. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 2
Lantz Fleming Miller A Way Out of Techno-limbo
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articles
8. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
Joni Turville From “You’ve Got Mail” to Email Overload: A Postphenomenological Genealogy of Email
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Using a postphenomenological approach, this article follows the history of email from its first development by and for the scientific community, through its commercialization, and into its modern-day integration with mobile devices. Five historical variations are identified: emergence, propagation, habituation and commercialization, supersaturation, and evanescence. Finally, I propose a model that describes not only the evolution of email, but potentially other digital communications tools. Studying the history of a technology can provide insight into both its past and contemporary applications, and may prompt more thoughtful use.
9. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
Mo Abolkheir If You Wish to Invent Then Follow the Half-Causation Method
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The Half-Causation Method is a metaphysical-epistemic model for developing industrialised technological inventions. It consists of five phases of reasoning through which methodological success is achieved. The Method is named after its first phase, which consists of a methodological idealisation of the causal process, by pinpointing half of a possible causal relation while ignoring everything else. Following this, the Method prescribes how the reasoning should proceed, which ultimately constructs a complete and novel causal process. Each phase terminates with an epistemic justification which the inventor (or inventors) can share with other knowers and have them deliberated and scrutinised. As such, the entire process of developing industrialised technological inventions, including the early stages which are traditionally regarded as mysterious can be understood as a sequence of epistemic justifications. In this paper, the Half-Causation Method is presented as a detailed practical prescription for future projects which aim to develop industrialised technological inventions. Throughout the paper two case studies from the recent history of technology are used as exemplars, namely: the invention of the microwave oven and the invention of the centrifugal vacuum cleaner. First, a definition of the ‘technological invention’ is proposed. Following that, the prescription is presented as fifteen methodological instructions: three instructions that repeat at each phase. The prescription is supplemented by a set-theoretic diagram. Although this is a philosophy paper, it is spoken directly to the scientists and engineers who aim to direct part of their research towards the development of inventions.
10. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
Jonathan Simon The Medical Drug as a Technological Object
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This article considers the medical drug as a technological object, in order to determine what philosophy of technology can bring to the study of pharmaceuticals and what the study of medical drugs can bring to the philosophy of technology. This approach will allow us to locate the differences between the medical drug and other objects that usually form the focus for studies in the philosophy of technology, and to discuss the problematic fit of the models proposed in the field to pharmaceuticals. After reflecting on the origins of this problem in both the philosophy of pharmacy and the philosophy of technology, I propose an examination of medical drugs using an analytical schema developed by Andrew Feenberg. I expose several shortcomings of this ‘post-phenomenological’ philosophy of technology applied to medical drugs. Despite the various problems identified, I nevertheless argue that the philosophy of technology is useful for thinking about medical drugs, particularly because of the emphasis it places on the social and political dimensions of technology. In conclusion, I argue in favour of a more open, eclectic philosophical engagement with medical drugs that puts more emphasis on their economic, social and political dimensions.
11. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
Ashwin Jayanti Instrumental Realisms and their Ontological Commitments
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This paper shall concern itself with two variants of instrumental realism that have developed independently of each other and have made a mark on contemporary philosophies of science as well as of technology in their own respective ways. One is that of Don Ihde, the progenitor of the postphenomenological approach to technoscience, and the other that of Davis Baird, who emphasizes the epistemic centrality of instruments as bearers of knowledge in themselves. I shall juxtapose Ihde’s instrumental realism with the instrumental realism of Baird, both of whom emphasize the importance of experimentation and instrumentation to any comprehensive philosophy of science. Whereas Ihde wants to extend hermeneutics to science praxis, Baird wants to maintain an epistemological commitment to what he calls ‘thing knowledge.’ In comparing and contrasting these two variants of instrumental realism, I shall discern the implicit ontological and epistemological claims that underlie the two realisms in the background of scientific realism and critically evaluate their contributions to a more comprehensive understanding of science, technology, and the relation between the two.
12. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
Trine Antonsen, Erik Lundestad Borgmann and the Non-Neutrality of Technology
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The paper focuses on Albert Borgmann’s philosophy of technology. We argue in support of Borgmann’s “Churchill principle” (“we shape our buildings, and afterwards they shape us”) as presented in Real American Ethics (RAE) (2006) by comparing it to findings within behavioral economics in general and to the “libertarian paternalism” of Cass R. Sunstein and Richard H. Thaler in particular. According to our interpretation of it, the Churchill principle implies that because our material environment in fact influences our choices, this environment can and should be rearranged so that we “automatically” will tend to make better decisions. Having defended the Churchill principle, we go on to discuss how this principle is related to Borgmann’s approach in Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life (TCCL) (1984). In this earlier work, Borgmann suggests we reform technology by making room for focal practices, that is, meaningful practices in which we develop our skills and excellences. We argue that while these two works have different basic approaches—rearranging the material environment in RAE and developing certain skills and excellences in TCCL—they can and ought to be seen, not as mutually excluding, but as supplementing one another. Together they form a highly salient critique of technology that takes into consideration questions of the good life without becoming overly paternalistic.
book reviews
13. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
Steven Umbrello Moving to a Posthuman Technosphere
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14. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
David B. Levy Trevor Pinch’s Social Construction of Science and Technology Revisited
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15. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 3
Mark Coeckelbergh, Michael Funk, Stefan Koller Wittgenstein and Philosophy of Technology: Introduction
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performing political technologies
16. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 3
Langdon Winner Technological Investigations: Wittgenstein’s Liberating Presence
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Although Ludwig Wittgenstein did not offer a fully developed philosophy of technology, his writings contain an approach to inquiry that can be employed to explore situations in which people contend with technological devices and systems. His notions of ‘language games’ and ‘forms of life’ as well as the dramatic, imaginary dialogues in his later writings offer ways to transcend the sometimes rigid theoretical frameworks in contemporary technology studies. Especially as applied to rapidly moving infusions of computing and digital electronics in contemporary society, Wittgenstein’s writings offer possibilities for fresh insight and even some practical alternatives.
17. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 3
Eric B. Litwack Wittgensteinian Humanism, Democracy, and Technocracy
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In this article, the author explores some possible applications of Wittgenstein’s humanistic psychology, epistemology and philosophy of culture for the philosophy of technology, and more particularly, for the question of valuing a possible future technocracy over contemporary democratic systems. Major aspects of the article involve a discussion of some of Wittgenstein’s key views on certainty, cultural relativism, the problem of other minds, and gradual socio-cultural change. In order to examine these problems, the author draws from both a wide range of Wittgenstein’s works, as well as secondary sources in Wittgenstein studies. An analogy is made between socio-cultural change over time and gradual visual loss. The author has incorporated important elements of Wittgenstein’s biography, both as a philosopher and as an engineer and architect, underlining the profound link between his life and thought.
performing methodical technologies
18. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 3
Alfred Nordmann A Feeling for the Work as a Limited Whole: Wittgenstein on the Problems of Philosophy and the Problem of Technology
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This is a paper, on the face of it, about Wittgenstein’s Tractatus and its contribution to the philosophy of technology. As such, it advances a three-fold claim: Especially the early Wittgenstein was not a philosopher of technology. Though he does not recognize philosophical problems of technology—for example, of engineering knowledge—he is keenly aware of the limits of philosophy. Thus, he inadvertently opens up a perspective for the philosophy of technology, after all. By drawing out the implications of this perspective for a conception of ‘working knowledge’ and thus of working orders of things, this paper ends up promoting a research program for the philosophy of technology.
19. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 3
Michael Funk Repeatability and Methodical Actions in Uncertain Situations: Wittgenstein’s Philosophy of Technology and Language
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In this paper Ludwig Wittgenstein is interpreted as a philosopher of language and technology. Due to current developments, a special focus is on lifeworld practice and technoscientific research. In particular, image-interpretation is used as a concrete methodical example. Whereas in most science- or technology-related Wittgenstein interpretations the focus is on the Tractatus, the Investigations or On Certainty, in this paper the primary source is his very late triune fragment Bemerkungen über die Farben (“Remarks about the Colours”). It is argued that Wittgenstein’s approach can supplement Don Ihde’s concept of material hermeneutics, and that Wittgenstein’s constructivist and pragmatist claims relate to current authors in the philosophy of technology like Peter Janich, Carl Mitcham or Jürgen Mittelstraß. Ludwig Wittgenstein enables a philosophical approach of transcendental grammars, techno-linguistic forms of life and technoscientific language games. In detail, several methodological aspects regarding relations between language and technology are summarized. Here concretely repeatability and methodical actions play major roles in uncertain situations of language and technology practice. It is shown that Wittgenstein is still underestimated in the philosophy of technology—although his thoughtful conceptualizations of language, social practice and technology bear important methodical insights for current technosciences like synthetic biology, robotics and many others.
performing social technologies
20. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 3
Mark Thomas Young Artifacts as Rules: Wittgenstein and the Sociology of Technology
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My goal in this article is to explore the extent to which the conception of rule-following which emerges from Wittgenstein’s later works can also yield important insights concerning the nature of technological practices. In particular, this article aims to examine how two interrelated themes of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations can be applied in the philosophical analysis of technology. Our first theme concerns linguistic practice; broadly construed, it is the claim that the use of language cannot be understood as determined by a system of context independent rules. The second, interrelated theme emerges as a consequence of the first; that the meaning of language is rendered indeterminate when analyzed in isolation from contexts of practice. Following the common tendency in the sociology of technology to draw analogies between language and technology, I aim to show how the arguments that Wittgenstein makes for these two claims concerning language can also help us to understand the relation between technical artifacts and technological practices. For, similar to Wittgenstein’s account of rules, it will be shown how artifacts cannot be adequately understood in isolation from a wider background of skillful practice and interpretation. To illustrate this idea, we will examine the case of the Geiger counter, with a view towards illustrating how important aspects of the function of the device are rendered indeterminate when assessed on the basis of physical design alone.