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Accepted Paper:

Performativities at play: how ethics and conceptualizations of technology reveal and conceal each other  
Donovan van der Haak (Tilburg University) Gert Meyers

Short abstract:

This paper discusses two performativities at play within classical philosophy of technology and the empirical turn: 1. Conceptualizations of technology reveal specific ethical insights and conceal others. 2. Ethical convictions attract particular conceptualizations of technology and repel others.

Long abstract:

This paper investigates two performativities that are at play within classical philosophy of technology and the empirical turn. Firstly, we show that particular conceptualizations of technology reveal specific ethical insights and conceal others. Secondly, we argue that how philosophers come to understand technology is also driven by particular normative convictions that are more or less compatible with different understandings of what technology is. This indicates that technology ethics should not come after, but be part of conceptualizing technology too.

Our investigation starts with classical philosophers of technology, focussing on Martin Heidegger, Herbert Marcuse and Jacques Ellul. We explore how their conceptualization of technology as an abstract phenomenon reveals a particular way of doing technology ethics and conceals other ethical considerations, especially those surrounding concrete technological artifacts. Moreover, we provide a contextualization of these philosophers to see how some of their normative convictions surrounding ethical foundationalism and freedom performed their particular way of conceptualizing technology as well.

We apply a similar approach to the empirical turn, exploring how their conceptualization of technology in terms of concrete technological artifacts performs an undermining of the ethical insights put forward by classical philosophers of technology. We argue that this empirical conceptualization was performed by a growing recognition of normative considerations surrounding concrete, technological artifacts, which classical philosophers of technology long overlooked.

A case study towards technomoral change within the safety domain of Eindhoven municipality seeks to exemplify the necessity of considering ethical insights arising from both classical and empirical philosophy of technology.

Traditional Open Panel P250
Understanding and interpreting technology in STS and Philosophy of Technology
  Session 1 Friday 19 July, 2024, -