Philosophy of technology notes: 1

One point about a philosophy of technology, which I have noted previously, is that if it is to be possible to theorize technology in a formal and abstract sense, apart from questions of applications in the realm of ethics or politics, then this presents us with some considerations of approach. We will have to rely on the evidence which is available to us, which means that more than usually in philosophy the “case study” is going to be a necessity. What this implies is that philosophy of technology will have to be a philosophy of history, specifically the history of technology. We see this in popular works such as Tim Wu‘s The Master Switch which in certain respects is a study of information technologies from a legal perspective, but it also steps into discussions which we could gather under the umbrella of philosophy (if we are not feeling too exclusive on a given day). To be sure, we may consider structural aspects of technology, but it cannot be separated from its substrate and its practice, as science can (or as our philosophy of science suggests science can become ‘disembodied’ in such a manner). Philosophy of science can confront its presuppositions and principles, whereas technology is a matter of implementing the results of scientific discovery. Does this contradict my above point about a philosophy of technology separate from ethics, politics, etc? I do not consider it to be such, for what we have is the Application of Technology, rather than the applications of technology, thus the case study might be used to elicit trends across many applications to give us tentative, provisional “Rules of Application”.

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