Technology, Corporations, and Contemporary Globalization: An Ethical and Social Critique

Abstract

I explore certain interconnections and commonalities among technology, corporations, and contemporary globalization in order to best understand the dangerous ethical and social consequences that accrue from them. I begin by discussing the notion of means becoming ends. Technology as means and corporate instrumental values tend to become endsin-themselves. I then suggest that technologist’s and corporate manager’s quantitative methods are ill-equipped to deal with questions of intrinsic value or ends, which are qualitative. Moreover, “development,” a key term in globalization discussions, is often defined quantitatively rather than qualitatively. I argue that this view is too narrow. Next, I discuss limiting autonomy as an important issue common to technology, corporations, and contemporary globalization. Material progress as a goal common to technology, corporations, and contemporary globalization is also considered. Technological mistakes and a neo-liberal, laissez-faire economy are said to be self-corrective, and this feature is used to support the notion of material progress. I argue that this has proved to be too optimistic. In the last section, I use certain contemporary leadership theorists to criticizeKenneth Galbraith’s and Peter Drucker’s views on corporate governance by technocratic specialists. I also discuss recent developments of the concept of technological assessment and related work by TU Delft researchers.

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