Some Ethical and Public Policy Implications of Technological Dependency with Reference to Innis, Mcluhan and Grant

Dissertation, University of Guelph (Canada) (1999)

This thesis is an investigation of an alternative interpretation of certain aspects of the intellectual legacy of three influential Canadian academics: Harold Innis, Marshall McLuhan, and George Grant. Arthur Kroker's seminal work on these three figures emphasizes the dissimilarities of their positions on the ethical and public policy implications of technology. According to Kroker McLuhan is a more optimistic herald of the new information age, Grant is a dark prophet of technological society, and Innis a practical-minded intermediary between these two possible visions of technological society. This investigation, in contrast, argues that a greater fundamental unity can be found in their varied responses to the ethical challenge of technological dependency, and that their responses are significantly more critical of technological development than Kroker acknowledges. ;This inquiry focuses on the issue of technological dependency. According to Innis, McLuhan and Grant an adequate ethical approach to technology must be capable of dealing with the bias towards technological practice that our dependence on technological practice helps set up. Without awareness of this kind of technologically induced bias any ethical approach to technology, including those which seek to be critical of technological development, can actually help support unquestioned technological expansion. Although Innis, McLuhan and Grant are unique in their individual expressions of the nature of technological bias, each warn that a bias towards technological practice can even threaten philosophical attempts to properly address the issue of technological dependency. ;Taken together what emerges from their varied insights into the nature of technological dependency is a unique approach to the ethical control of technology. This approach seeks to bridge the divide between pro- and anti-technological attitudes towards technology. This dissertation seeks to clarify this ethical approach and explore its implications for contemporary public policy analysis
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