In Moral Hermeneutics and Technology: Making Moral Sense through Human-Technology-World Relations, Olya Kudina explores the role of technology in the way people arrive at their moral intuitions and choices and revise their moral commitments, a phenomenon she calls “moral hermeneutics.” This book considers technology as a mediator of human relations and questions the traditional anthropocentric view of morality. Drawing on the philosophical traditions of postphenomenology and pragmatism and empirical explorations from multiple case studies, Kudina shows how values co-evolve with the dynamic human-technology-world environment and even change in response to it. Consequently, Kudina presents morality as a dynamic practice of sense-making, where people, technologies, and the cultural setting all play an active role. This book explores the implications of such a technologically mediated moral hermeneutics for the informed use, design, and governance of technologies, while accounting for the intimate connection between values and technologies.
Olya Kudina is assistant professor of ethics and philosophy of technology at Delft University of Technology.
Introduction. Probing the relation between technology and morality
Chapter 1. Morality as an ecosystem
Chapter 2. Technological mediation of morality
Chapter 3. Technological appropriation and moral hermeneutics
Chapter 4. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis as a method to study moral hermeneutics
Chapter 5. Hermeneutic lemniscate as an encompassing principle of moral sense-making mediated by technologies
Conclusion. Reflecting on the moral hermeneutics study from the perspectives of technology design and governance
Technologies are not morally neutral but co-shape our moral and meaningful relations to the world and to others. Significantly expanding and contributing to empirical postphenomenology and mediation theory, Kudina’s Moral Hermeneutics and Technology offers an attractive account of how we make moral sense through technology, showing not only how the meaning of values changes in relation to specific technologies but also how subjects are shaped by the technologically mediated sociocultural world. Values and people, after all, are relational. Obligatory reading for anyone interested in ethics of technology.
Olya Kudina presents a groundbreaking contribution to the subject of moral hermeneutics in her comprehensive exploration of the interplay between technologies, human beings, and the sociocultural environment in shaping moral sense-making. Kudina expands on the technological mediation approach and proposes the notion of value dynamism, emphasizing that technologies not only co-shape moral perceptions and actions but also mediate the meaning of values, which often lead to value change.
The book explores various technological advancements such as genetically modified food, assisted reproduction technologies, and pervasive Internet connectivity, and how they have reshaped our understanding of morality and ethical expectations. It argues that technologies are not neutral tools but rather active mediators that shape how people perceive the world, each other, and themselves.
A particularly notable contribution lies within its development of a method for studying technologically mediated moral hermeneutics. Her introduction of the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis method allows for a detailed analysis of how values surface, undergo re-articulation, and potentially change through the process of technology appropriation. This method provides a richer and more nuanced understanding of the moral implications of technologies compared to traditional comment-based experimental studies.
The book also addresses the challenges and implications of how technologies mediate the meaning of values, while acknowledging the complex nature of this relationship in large part because neither human actors, specific technologies, nor cultural elements can be the sole source of values in moral decision-making. That said, she finds that moral problems may have workable solutions that emerge through the unique interaction of human beings, technologies, and the cultural context.
Furthermore, the author discusses the practical implications in the fields of technology ethics and design. Kudina suggests that the expanded technological mediation approach can complement existing approaches by providing a solid empirical foundation to understand value dynamism and anticipate potential value changes. The book also explores how the moral hermeneutics account can be integrated into the Value Sensitive Design approach, enhancing the conceptual understanding of values in design processes.
Overall, this book offers a thought-provoking exploration of the relationship between technologies and morality. Kudina’s innovative concepts of moral hermeneutics and value dynamism provide valuable insights into the dynamics of moral sense-making and the role of technologies in shaping ethical frameworks. This book will be of great interest to scholars and practitioners in the fields of technology ethics, design, and philosophy.
Publication in open access of the book Moral Hermeneutics and Technology: Making Moral Sense through Human-Technology-World Relations by Olya Kudina is financed from the funds of the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 788321.