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This is an anthology of ten essays engaging the work of Andrew Feenberg, primarily his Questioning Technology but more generally his philosophy of technology. Tyler Veak's introduction rightly suggests that the breadth of approaches taken by the different authors gives the book a loose organization. Indeed, some take so broad a view that their essays seem merely occasioned by Feenberg's work. This looseness would be a fault, ultimately, were it not for two factors that I shall discuss below.
Part 1 is more or less oriented toward the philosophical underpinnings of Feenberg's theory. There is a divide in philosophy of technology between so-called substantivist and social-constructivist approaches.
Substantivism—for instance, Martin Heidegger's view—holds that there is an essence of technology that must be understood in order to comprehend and critique our technological world. Social-constructivism maintains that technology has no essence of its own in contradistinction from the social and political sphere. Technology represents social forces, but it also contributes to constructing those very forces.
Feenberg's contribution to philosophy of technology attempts to bridge the gap, or to take the best from both substantivist and constructivist approaches. The essays in part 1 crisscross this conceptual territory. Trish Glaze-brook and Larry Hickman both give brief accounts of Feenberg's work before seemingly setting it aside in pursuit of their own agendas.
While there may be some apparent similarities between Feenberg's critical theory of technology and ecofeminism Glazebrook or John Dewey's account of technology Hickman , it is not immediately clear how such discussion advances understanding of technology or of Feenberg's theory. More critically pointed are the essays by David Stump, Simon Cooper, and Iain Thompson, all of whom take issue with some aspect of the formation of Feenberg's theory. Stump claims Feenberg is intriguingly both too much of a social constructivist and too much of an essentialist, despite the usual polar opposition between these approaches.
Cooper suggests that Feenberg's theory is blind to the effects of "posthuman" technologies. Thompson criticizes Feenberg's account of Heidegger's essentialism and argues that, without it, criticism is not grounded. The impression they give overall is very nearly that Questioning Technology is a sort of Rorschach blot for philosophers of technology. Part 2 focuses on the ramifications of Feenberg's critical theory for politics and for social and economic life.
Feenberg's call for democratizing technology has a certain kinship with William Sullivan's push for democratization of the medical field and education: both operate with a conception of democracy that values the process of open and participatory deliberation as being itself a public good. Gerald Doppelt argues that Feenberg's theory lacks a clear account of democracy because it seems to [End Page ] lack a standard or aim.
This criticism is echoed in Albert Borgmann's somewhat ironic suggestion that democratizing technology may have the unfortunate result that people will want technologies that are nondemocratic.
Paul Thompson, Andrew Light, and Edward Woodhouse close out the critical portion of the volume with extensions of Feenberg's analysis. Thompson offers an account of commodification as an additional critical tool. Light considers the implications for environmental policy, and Wood-house applies Feenberg's view to specific examples of corporate decision-making to inquire into what it would mean to make these more democratic. What makes this anthology more than a loose collection is Feenberg's "Replies to Critics.
Second, he draws together the threads of the discussion and gives the book a coherence and depth of exploration it would not otherwise have. Returning to the critics on the basis of Feenberg's replies shows that, as loosely connected or tangential as they may have been, all the essays provide greater context and insight into this most serious philosophical issue.
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Defining Technological Literacy pp Cite as. In this chapter I attempt to answer the question posed in the title from two standpoints, first historically and then in terms of contemporary options in the field, the various different theories that are currently under discussion. Science and technology share a similar type of rationality based on empirical observation and knowledge of natural causality, but technology is concerned with usefulness rather than truth. Where science seeks to know, technology seeks to control. However, this is by no means the whole story.
What Is Philosophy of Technology?
Andrew Feenberg born is an American philosopher. His main interests are philosophy of technology , continental philosophy , critique of technology and science and technology studies. During this time Feenberg was active in the New Left , founding a journal entitled Alternatives and participating in the May '68 events in Paris. Feenberg's primary contribution to the philosophy of technology is his argument for the democratic transformation of technology.
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