History and Philosophy Of Science | Technology and Culture
X210 | 29945 | Colin Allen


Technology and Culture
X210
Colin Allen

Technology and Culture  Although human technology predates science,
technology and science have been become so intertwined that it is
impossible to understand one without understanding the other. As
technology has developed from the production of individually-crafted
stone axes to the products of a massive scientific enterprise which
has given us everything from supercomputers to weapons of mass
destruction, so too has our conception of technology changed. We
have gone from viewing technology as the controllable product of
deliberate human artifice to viewing it as possessing its own
evolutionary dynamics which put it beyond effective human control.
As our relationships to technology have changed, so too have human
attitudes to it diversified, ranging from techno-utopianism, through
passive acceptance, to a level of techno-phobia that sometimes even
leads to terrorist acts. This course begins with a survey of the
philosophy of technology during which we will consider questions
such as the following: Is technology a uniquely human trait?  Is
modern technology the product of a particular human culture?  What
do science and technology have to do with each other? Is technology
gendered? Is technological change inevitable or desirable? During
the second part of the course will focus developments in autonomous
software and robotics that lead to interesting questions about the
limits of technology and the possibility and desirability of
scientific and technological approaches to ethical decision making.