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Understanding and interpreting technology in STS and Philosophy of Technology 
Martin Sand (TU Delft)
Clare Shelley-Egan (TU Delft)
Mark Theunissen (Delft University)
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Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

This open panel seeks to map and discuss the disciplinary boundaries between Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Philosophy of Technology (PoT) in their understanding and interpreting (hermeneutics) of technology.

Long Abstract:

The boundaries between the disciplines of Philosophy of Technology (PoT) and Science and Technology Studies (STS) are fluid. Many authors and researchers publish in journals that are associated with either of these disciplines, stepping over the boundaries between them with visible ease. Yet, is their understanding of technology really the same, or are they rather incompatible? Does STS not shy away from charging certain designs as (objectively) flawed, omitting to take an alleged neutral or moral point of view, which is a position that normative philosophers are much more confident in assuming? And aren’t philosophers of technology on the other hand blind to the descriptive nuances of technological change, still thinking that they could address some primary agents with responsibility and blame, if things go wrong, thereby simplifying our evolved technological life worlds?

The present panel invites some meta reflections on the disciplinary presuppositions of STS and philosophy of technology and their possible (in)compatibility. We want to discuss whether these fields’ understanding and interpreting of technology is at all different and perhaps fundamentally incompatible. Can a hermeneutics of technology overcome the disciplinary presuppositions that each of these approaches to technology implicitly assume? What is a correct understanding of technology?

Leading questions:

• How is or does a technology become available for interpretation in the first place?

• What is the primary object and result of interpretation: exclusively descriptive or aimed to establish and offer normative critique?

• How does one account for interpretative change, i.e., what makes one interpretation ‘better’ than another?

• How does interpretation come to an end in practice? What are the relevant 'saturation’ conditions, are these pre-set or integral to the research endeavor?

• Would you categorize your interpretative methods as grounded in theory or as emerging from research?

Accepted papers:

Session 1
Session 2