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Displaying: 1-20 of 510 documents


articles
1. 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.
2. 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
3. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
Steven Umbrello Moving to a Posthuman Technosphere
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4. 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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5. 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
6. 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.
7. 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
8. 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.
9. 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
10. 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.
11. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 3
Michał Piekarski, Witold Wachowski Artefacts as Social Things: Design-Based Approach to Normativity
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In these reflections, we want to prove a thesis whereby normativity of rules and norms may be linked to the domain of artefacts which we understand as social things. We claim that some norms and rules are situated in human socio-material ecosystems especially when it comes to the role played by affordances. The thesis advanced in this article will also enable us to indicate one of the potential interpretations of Wittgenstein’s ‘forms of life’ concept, demonstrating that some solutions suggested by the author of Philosophical Investigations are still relevant today. We will relate the issue of the normativity of artefacts to the problem of rule recognition which Wittgenstein also raises in some of his later studies. We will demonstrate that the problem of normativity recognition is linked to (1) relational properties of objects, that is affordances; (2) structured nature of the world of human communities; and (3) the ability to recognise affordances related to the ability to create predictions about future states of affairs. The analyses presented herein will show that it is possible to link the perspectives of cognitive ecology, design practice and philosophical analyses focused on the problem of normativity.
performing cognitive technologies
12. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 3
Christoph Durt From Calculus to Language Game: The Challenge of Cognitive Technology
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Cognitive technology is an increasingly important form of technology that can deal with meaning by either replicating or simulating human cognition. Cognitive technology can make use of information technology, but it strives to go beyond mere information processing by recognizing, changing, and creating meaning. This presents us with a two-sided challenge: On the one hand, cognitive technology is challenged to ‘understand’ meaning in ordinary language. And on the other, it challenges us to rethink fundamental questions of human cognition and sense-making. Both challenges demand a better understanding of the difference between the technical transformation of symbols and the understanding of meaning in the ordinary sense. After explaining the topic in relation to both the insights and the limitations of the reflections by Turing, Searle, and Heidegger, this paper primarily builds on Wittgenstein’s contributions to a better understanding of the difference between two conceptions of meaning and their implications for technical replication and simulation. The paper shows that Wittgenstein developed his early calculus account of meaning into that of language games and that language games not only come in many different varieties, but are also much more flexible than calculi. Of particular interest will be the difference between rigid and creative rule-following. Creative rule-following involves an intricate interplay of very different bodily, mental, and cultural constituents, so that its simulation is not merely a technical problem but also requires clarification of a number of profound philosophical questions. It will become clear that the challenge of cognitive technology shows up at unexpected places and that is much bigger than usually assumed.
13. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 3
Thomas Raleigh Wittgenstein’s Remarks on Technology and Mental Mechanisms
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This article provides a survey of Wittgenstein’s remarks in which he discusses various kinds of technology. I argue that throughout his career, his use of technological examples displays a thematic unity: technologies are invoked in order to illustrate a certain mechanical conception of the mind. I trace how his use of such examples evolved as his views on the mind and on meaning changed. I also discuss an important and somewhat radical anti-mechanistic strain in his later thought and suggest that Wittgenstein’s attitude to mechanistic explanations in psychology was ultimately quite ambivalent.
14. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 2
Nolen Gertz Hegel, the Struggle for Recognition, and Robots
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While the mediational theories of Don Ihde and Peter-Paul Verbeek have helped to uncover the role that technologies play in ethical life, the role that technologies play in political life has received far less attention. In order to fill in this gap, I turn to the mediational theory of Hegel. Hegel shows how understanding the mediated nature of experience is vital to understanding the development of political life. Through examples found in the military, in particular concerning the relationship between explosive ordnance detonation (EOD) soldiers and robots, I illustrate how Hegel’s analysis of the “struggle for recognition” can be used to understand human-technology relations from a political perspective. This political perspective can consequently help us to appreciate how technologies come to have a role in political life through our ability to experience solidarity with technology. Solidarity is experienced by users due to the recognition of technologies as serving roles in society that I describe as functionally equivalent to the social roles of the user. The realization of this functional equivalence allows users to learn how they are perceived and respected by society through the experience of how functionally equivalent technologies are perceived and respected. I conclude by focusing on the importance of understanding functional equivalence in design, as well as in the case of the Dallas Police Department having turned an EOD robot from a life-saving to a life-taking device. These examples show why Hegel is necessary for helping us to understand the political significance of recognizing and of misrecognizing technologies.
15. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 2
Eduardo R. Cruz Creativity, Human and Transhuman: The Childhood Factor
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Transhumanists, like other elites in modernity, place great value on human creativity, and advances in human enhancement and AI form the basis of their proposals for boosting it. However, there are problems with this perspective, due to the unique ways in which humans have evolved, procreated and socialized. I first describe how creativity is related to past evolution and developmental aspects in children, stressing pretend play and the ambivalent character of creativity. Then, I outline proposals for enhancing creativity, be it in embodied humans on the way to a superior species, in AI-related beings (virtual reality, robotics), or even in any degree of mixture in human-machine interaction. In the final section, I describe intrinsic limits to these proposals, such as the absence of a good understanding of human psychology by the proponents of enhancement; the lack of interest in the subjective side of creativity (for one’s own sake); delayed maturation and the ambivalence of pretend play in childhood; and the contrariness typical of new human generations. As for the enhancement of creativity, it is argued that creativity in its social context may be the victim of its own past success. On the other hand, an asymmetry between virtual beings and children is described—the latter can behave in a nasty way, it is part of their growth and creativity, whereas the former are not supposed to cause any harm to human beings. In sum, despite impressive progress in several scientific and technological interventions in creativity, philosophical questions emerge that place many constraints on transhumanist dreams of endless creativity.
16. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 2
Zachary Pirtle, Jay Odenbaugh, Andrew Hamilton, Zoe Szajnfarber Engineering Model Independence: A Strategy to Encourage Independence Among Models
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According to population biologist Richard Levins, every discipline has a “strategy of model building,” which involves implicit assumptions about epistemic goals and the types of abstractions and modeling approaches used. We will offer suggestions about how to model complex systems based upon a strategy focusing on independence in modeling. While there are many possible and desirable modeling strategies, we will contrast a model-independence-focused strategy with the more common modeling strategy of adding increasing levels of detail to a model. Levins calls the latter approach a ‘brute force’ strategy of modeling, which can encounter problems as it attempts to add increasing details and predictive precision. In contrast, a model-independence-focused strategy, which we call a ‘pluralistic strategy,’ draws off of Levins’s use of an assemblage of multiple, simple and—critically—independent models of ecological systems in order to do predictive and explanatory analysis. We use the example of model analysis of levee failure during Hurricane Katrina to show what a pluralistic strategy looks like in engineering. Depending on one’s strategy, one can deliberately engineer the set of available models in order to have more independent and complementary models that will be more likely to be accurate. We offer advice on ways of making models independent as well as a set of epistemic goals for model development that different models can emphasize.
17. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 2
Chrysanthos Voutounos, Andreas Lanitis A Cultural Semiotic Aesthetic Approach for a Virtual Heritage Project: Part B—Evaluation and Design for Virtual Heritage and Theoretical Extensions
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Continuing from Part A (2016), in which we discuss the semiotic foundation for designing a virtual museum of Byzantine art, Part B presents an applied methodology for the representation of cultural artifacts through virtual technologies and semiotic techniques. We discuss how our semiotic model, case study semiosphere, contributes to design and evaluation research of such unique art-form representation and why the approach contributes as a whole to the field of Virtual Heritage (VH). Theorizing further the design implications integrating the overall approach including the evaluation experiment of three VH applications with the participation of young users and its semiotic analysis, we formulate design guidelines that can be applied also to other types of cultural heritage and art.
18. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 2
Martin Sand How the Future Has a Grip on Us
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Being faced with bold statements about the technological future, the wickedness of technological systems and our frequent cluelessness when aiming at predicting the course of such systems, scholars from philosophy of technology and Technology Assessment (TA) have given up believing that any method can enhance our knowledge about the future. Hence, hermeneutic TA, forensics of wishing and other approaches shift their focus on the present of such futures. While these approaches are meaningful in their own right, they basically rest on a too sceptical foundation. In my article I will present some objections to these approaches. It is clearly true as has been pointed out that knowledge about the future cannot be tested to correspond with reality, since the future does not yet exist. However, it is debatable whether such a criterion is generally required for robust knowledge. Giving that we cannot observe the past but claim to know a lot about, I will argue that a commitment to the correspondence theory of truth is too strong a requirement for robust knowledge about the future. Theory building departs by inferring from present observations into both directions, future and past. To show this, some examples that illustrate how the future has a lock on us will be discussed. Furthermore, it will be outlined that the often cited notion of future’s openness also rests on such inferential knowledge, which indicates incoherence in the skeptics’ approach. These arguments build the basis for a modest realism about the future.
book reviews
19. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 2
Richard S. Lewis Wisdom Practices for Living with Technology: Review of The Ethics of Ordinary Technology, by Michel Puech
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20. Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Glenn M. Trujillo, Jr. From Taquería to Medical School: Juan Carlos, Aristotle, Cognitive Enhancements, and a Good Life
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This paper begins with a vignette of Juan Carlos, an immigrant to America who works to support his family, attends classes at a community college, and cares for his ill daughter. It argues that an Aristotelian virtue ethicist could condone a safe, legal, and virtuous use of cognitive enhancements in Juan Carlos’s case. The argument is that if an enhancement can lead him closer to eudaimonia (i.e., flourishing, or a good life), then it is morally permissible to use it. The paper closes by demonstrating how common objections to cognitive enhancement fail to undermine Juan Carlos’s justifiable use of the technology. The particularities of his case make it morally acceptable for him to use enhancements in certain situations. The paper, thus, constructs a limited, positive case for the virtuous use of pharmaceutical cognitive enhancements.