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Ethics in Technology

A Philosophical Study

Topi Heikkerö

Hardback
Paperback
This book inquires into the question: How to think about ethics in a technological world? This question has three facets: technological advance poses new challenges for ethics, traditional ethics may become poorly applicable in a technological world, and the progress in science and technology has undermined ethical thinking itself. A thematic treatment of these three dimensions of the problematic is followed by an analysis of three central approaches to the questions framed. These are Hans Jonas’ ethics of responsibility, Albert Borgmann’s phenomenological analysis of everyday life in a technological civilization, and Larry Hickman’s pragmatist philosophy of technology. The inquiry concludes with a sketch of future directions for ethics of technology. This includes assessing the roles of applied ethics, science and technology studies (STS), and philosophy of technology in ethics of technology. While the author agrees on the need for an interdisciplinary dialogue between these three traditions, he argues for the primacy of philosophy of technology in thinking about ethics in technology. Furthermore, the centrality of “mid-level ethics” is elaborated on in the conclusion. Here mid-level refers to ethically pregnant phenomena in the realm between instantaneous choices by an individual (micro level), and questions about fundamental principles of justice and societal goods (macro level). Mid-level thus concerns, for instance, habits, practices, and communal institutions.
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Lexington Books
Pages: 246Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
978-0-7391-6864-6 • Hardback • June 2012 • $90.00 • (£60.00)
978-0-7391-9195-8 • Paperback • May 2014 • $41.99 • (£27.95)
Topi Heikkerö is tutor at St. John's College, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Preface
Acknowledgments
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: The Question of Ethics in a Technological World
Chapter 3: Hans Jonas: Technology and Responsibility
Chapter 4: Albert Borgmann: Technology and the Good Life
Chapter 5: Larry Hickman: Technology and Functionality
Chapter 6: Thinking Further: Ethics and Technology
Chapter 7: Conclusions
Overall, Heikkerö succeeds in identifying an amazing number of issues in an accessible way...In fundamental ways, Heikkerö is surely right. We cannot continue to treat science, technology, and ethics traditionally and unreflectively. Nor can we continue to separate technoscience studies into applied ethics, phenomenologies and sociologies of the particular, and Big Question philosophies. Heikkerö makes the case for their integration with an impressive amount of material, in accessible prose, accompanied by sensible criticisms.
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews


Heikkerö ... has made a valuable contribution to how we should think about ethics in a technological age.
Technology and Culture


This book is a godsend for all who ponder the vexing ethical and political questions that confront the new millennium. Drawing upon evidence from the field of science and technology studies, the book explores contributions of major philosophers who have questioned our society’s often uncritical reliance on powerful technologies. As Topi Heikkerö sorts through the themes and theories, he outlines a compelling vision of our environmental and social obligations. His lucid, engaging style makes it possible for scholars, students and everyday citizens to grasp the issues and join the debate.
Langdon Winner, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Why is it that most of us rarely think about technology in philosophical terms yet technology is one of the most influential dimensions of human life? In addition to contributing to a much needed genre of studies of technology in contemporary society like Turkle’s Alone Together, this book clearly and eloquently remind us of the importance to ask philosophical questions about technology. It does so by tracing this line of inquiry to key influential philosophers of technology–Jonas, Borgmann, Hickman–and distilling from them frameworks to help us ask questions about technology and the good life. This book is a 'must read' for anyone embarking in teaching or research of ethics, philosophy, or social studies of technology. It belongs in the library collection of any university that wants its faculty and students to think seriously about technology.

Juan Lucena, Colorado School of Mines


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