From critical theory of technology to the rational critique of rationality

Social Epistemology 22 (1):5 – 28 (2008)
This paper explores the sense in which modern societies can be said to be rational. Social rationality cannot be understood on the model of an idealized image of scientific method. Neither science nor society conforms to this image. Nevertheless, critique is routinely silenced by neo-liberal and technocratic arguments that appeal to social simulacra of science. This paper develops a critical strategy for addressing the resistance of rationality to rational critique. Romantic rejection of reason has proven less effective than strategies that conceptualize modern artefacts, systems, and organizations as rationally underdetermined. This approach first appears in Marx's analysis of capitalist economics. Although he lacks the concept of underdetermination, Marx gets around the silencing effect of social rationality with something very much like it in his discussion of the length of the working day. Frankfurt School Critical Theory later blended romantic elements with Marxian ones in a suggestive but ambiguous mixture. The concept of underdetermination reappears in contemporary science and technology studies, now clearly articulated and philosophically and sociologically elaborated. But somewhere along the way the critical thrust was diluted. Critical theory of technology attempts to recover that thrust. Here its approach is generalized to cover the three main forms of social rationality.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/02691720701773247
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,651
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 19 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

518 ( #2,516 of 1,902,847 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

77 ( #3,463 of 1,902,847 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.