Technology, Recommendation and Design: On Being a 'Paternalistic' Philosopher

Science and Engineering Ethics 19 (1):27-42 (2013)
Philosophers have talked to each other about moral issues concerning technology, but few of them have talked about issues of technology and the good life, and even fewer have talked about technology and the good life with the public in the form of recommendation. In effect, recommendations for various technologies are often left to technologists and gurus. Given the potential benefits of informing the public on their impacts on the good life, however, this is a curious state of affairs. In the present paper, I will examine why philosophers are seemingly reluctant to offer recommendations to the public. While there are many reasons for philosophers to refrain from offering recommendations, I shall focus on a specific normative reason. More specifically, it appears that, according to a particular definition, offering recommendations can be viewed as paternalistic, and therefore is prima facie wrong to do so. I will provide an argument to show that the worry about paternalism is unfounded, because a form of paternalism engendered by technology is inevitable. Given the inevitability of paternalism, I note that philosophers should accept the duty to offer recommendations to the public. I will then briefly turn to design ethics, which has reconceptualised the role of philosophers and, in my mind, fitted well with the inevitability of paternalism. Finally, I shall argue that design ethics has to be supplemented by the practice of recommendation if it is to sustain its objective.
Keywords Paternalism  Recommendation  Design ethics  Good life  Role of philosopher
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11948-011-9288-9
 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: 15,904
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
John Rawls (1993). Political Liberalism. Columbia University Press.
J. Rawls (1995). Political Liberalism. Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
Joel Feinberg (1986). Harm to Self. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).

View all 24 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Anders Albrechtslund (2007). Ethics and Technology Design. Ethics and Information Technology 9 (1):63-72.
Toni Robertson (2006). Ethical Issues in Interaction Design. Ethics and Information Technology 8 (2):49-59.
Simon Clarke (2002). A Definition of Paternalism. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 5 (1):81-91.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

28 ( #109,526 of 1,725,449 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #349,436 of 1,725,449 )

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.