This article draws on the suggestion that modern technology is “autonomous” in that our social control mechanisms are unable to control technology and instead merely adapt society to integrate new technologies. In this article, I suggest that common law judges tend systematically to support the integration of novel technologies into society. For example, courts sometimes require parties seeking compensation for serious injuries to submit to medical technologies to which the parties object for genuine reasons of fear or moral objection. Where a novel technology alters the environment in some way, courts sometimes legitimize that alteration by refusing to recognize harm and instead characterizing avoidance of the technology as self-imposed harm. The examples selected in this article were chosen to support the hypothesis in one way or another, and future work will aim to look for counter examples and to conduct a more complete assessment of the hypothesis.
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DOI 10.1177/0270467607305500
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