Philosophy of Technology?

Does anyone know of (historical or contemporary) accounts of philosophy of technology where the emphasis of the philosophical account is not on the human-object dialectic (in its metaphysical, ethical, social, or whatever other dimensions you like) but rather on the methodology of making artifacts, perhaps in juxtaposition with a methodology for accomplishing “pure” science? I’ve been conducting a survey over the past few days that has not proved fruitful, but I’m not sure I’m looking in the right places.


About burstenj

Assistant Professor of Philosophy
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2 Responses to Philosophy of Technology?

  1. Jacob Kolman says:

    I’ll hazard a reply though this is very far from my area: For starters, the SEP article (with bibliography) looks promising for at least some of your requests, unless I’m missing important field distinctions:
    (links at the bottom to the journal Techne and SPT in particular).

    A bit of this theme has popped in my head lately since I found a copy of The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (ed. Humphrey Carpenter w/ Christopher Tolkien, latest paperback 2000). His thoughts are more literary, thematic, and theological than philosophical or methodological, but the perspective may not be totally worthless to a philosopher hard up for references (or at least fun epigraphs). The text has a fantastic index; if you can find a copy, I can direct you to several relevant terms (mostly dealing with magic, machines, and races/characters exemplifying each).

    In general, any philosophical treatment available on more occult concepts (magic, alchemy, medieval talisman-making), may prove more useful than first glance suggests–at least if you subscribe to Arthur C. Clarke’s third law or Larry Niven’s corollary, that sufficiently advanced technology is magic and sufficiently advanced magic is technology.

    • burstenj says:

      Thanks for the tips, Jacob! I’ve been through the SEP, but hadn’t thought to take it in Tolkien’s direction (although after watching an episode of Alcatraz earlier this week that tried to sell “magic” healing properties in the form of colloidal silver–without mentioning argyria–I am wholly sold on modern television’s belief in Niven’s corollary).

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