This paper praises and criticizes Peter-Paul Verbeek's What Things Do . The four things that Verbeek does well are: remind us of the importance of technological things; bring Karl Jaspers into the conversation on technology; explain how technology "co-shapes" experience by reading Bruno Latour's actor-network theory in light of Don Ihde's post-phenomenology; develop a material aesthetics of design. The three things that Verbeek does not do well are: analyze the material conditions in which things are produced; criticize the social-political design (...) and use context of things; and appreciate how liberal moral-political theory contributes to our evaluation of technology. (shrink)
Technology permeates nearly every aspect of our daily lives. Cars enable us to travel long distances, mobile phones help us to communicate, and medical devices make it possible to detect and cure diseases. But these aids to existence are not simply neutral instruments: they give shape to what we do and how we experience the world. And because technology plays such an active role in shaping our daily actions and decisions, it is crucial, Peter-Paul Verbeek argues, that we consider the (...) moral dimension of technology. _Moralizing Technology_ offers exactly that: an in-depth study of the ethical dilemmas and moral issues surrounding the interaction of humans and technology. Drawing from Heidegger and Foucault, as well as from philosophers of technology such as Don Ihde and Bruno Latour, Peter-Paul Verbeek locates morality not just in the human users of technology but in the interaction between us and our machines. Verbeek cites concrete examples, including some from his own life, and compellingly argues for the morality of _things_. Rich and multifaceted, and sure to be controversial, _Moralizing Technology_ will force us all to consider the virtue of new inventions and to rethink the rightness of the products we use every day. (shrink)
This article analyzes the moral relevance of technological artifacts and its possible role in ethical theory, by taking the postphenomenological approach that has developed around the work of Don Ihde into the domain of ethics. By elaborating a postphenomenological analysis of the mediating role of ultrasound in moral decisions about abortion, the article argues that technologies embody morality and help to constitute moral subjectivity. This technological mediation of the moral subject is subsequently addressed in terms of Michel Foucault’s ethical position, (...) in which ethics is about actively co-shaping one’s moral subjectivity. Integrating Foucauldian ethics and postphenomenology, the article argues that the technological mediation of moral subjectivity should be at the heart of an ethical approach that takes the moral dimensions of technology seriously. (shrink)
Trust is a central dimension in the relation between human beings and technologies. In many discourses about technology, the relation between human beings and technologies is conceptualized as an external relation: a relation between pre-given entities that can have an impact on each other but that do not mutually constitute each other. From this perspective, relations of trust can vary between reliance, as is present for instance in technological extensionism, and suspicion, as in various precautionary approaches in ethics that focus (...) on technological risks. Against these two interpretations of trust, this article develops a third one. Based on a more internal account of the relations between human beings and technologies, it becomes possible to see that every technological development puts at stake what it means to be a human being. Using technologies, then, implies trusting ourselves to technologies. We argue that this does not imply an uncritical subjection to technology. Rather, recognizing that technologies help to constitute human subjectivity implies that human beings can get actively involved in processes of technological mediation. Trust then has the character of confidence: deliberately trusting oneself to technology. (shrink)
This book provides an introduction to postphenomenology, an emerging school of thought in the philosophy of technology and science and technology studies, which addresses the relationships users develop with the devices they use.
This article investigates the types of intentionality involved in human–technology relations. It aims to augment Don Ihde’s analysis of the relations between human beings and technological artifacts, by analyzing a number of concrete examples at the limits of Ihde’s analysis. The article distinguishes and analyzes three types of “cyborg intentionality,” which all involve specific blends of the human and the technological. Technologically mediated intentionality occurs when human intentionality takes place “through” technological artifacts; hybrid intentionality occurs when the technological actually merges (...) with the human; and composite intentionality is the addition of human intentionality and the intentionality of technological artifacts. (shrink)
In his article In Between Us, Yoni van den Eede expands existing theories of mediation into the realm of the social and the political, focusing on the notions of opacity and transparency. His approach is rich and promising, but two pitfalls should be avoided. First, his concept of ‘in-between’ runs the risk to conceptualize mediation as a process ‘between’ pre-given entities. On the basis of current work in postphenomenology and actor-network theory, though, mediation should rather be seen as the origin (...) of entities, not as an intermediary between them. Second, Van den Eede’s separate discussion of transparency and opacity in ‘use’ and in ‘context’ runs the risk to make invisible the complementarity of the two dimensions. While transparency of use embodies an experiential form of the distinction between transparency and opacity, transparency of context embodies a more cognitive dimension of the distinction. Only by linking the two it becomes possible to take responsibility for the impact that technological mediations can have. Users and designers need a ‘double vision’ to simultaneously see the transparency of both use and context. (shrink)
The currently developing fields of Ambient Intelligence and Persuasive Technology bring about a convergence of information technology and cognitive science. Smart environments that are able to respond intelligently to what we do and that even aim to influence our behaviour challenge the basic frameworks we commonly use for understanding the relations and role divisions between human beings and technological artifacts. After discussing the promises and threats of these technologies, this article develops alternative conceptions of agency, freedom, and responsibility that make (...) it possible to better understand and assess the social roles of Ambient Intelligence and Persuasive Technology. The central claim of the article is that these new technologies urge us to blur the boundaries between humans and technologies also at the level of our conceptual and moral frameworks. (shrink)
Andrew Feenberg’s political philosophy of technology uniquely connects the neo-Marxist tradition with phenomenological approaches to technology. This paper investigates how this connection shapes Feenberg’s analysis of power. Influenced by De Certeau and by classical positions in philosophy of technology, Feenberg focuses on a dialectical model of oppression versus liberation. A hermeneutic reading of power, though, inspired by the late Foucault, does not conceptualize power relations as external threats, but rather as the networks of relations in which subjects are constituted. Such (...) a hermeneutic approach replaces De Certeau’s tactics of resistance with a critical and creative accompaniment of technological developments. (shrink)
This article is a reply to the three reviews of my book What Things Do: Philosophical Reflections on Technology, Agency, and Design (Verbeek 2005 ) in this symposium. It discusses the remarks made by the reviewers along five lines. The first is methodological and concerns the question of how to develop a philosophical approach to technology. The second line discusses the philosophical orientation of the book, and the relations between analytic and continental approaches. Third, I will discuss the metaphysical aspects (...) of the book, in particular the nature and value of the non-modernist approach it aims to set out. Fourth, I will discuss the social and political relevance of the book. Fifth, this will bring me to some concluding remarks about how the postphenomenological perspective developed in the book relates to liberalism, focusing on its suggestions to deliberately design our material environment in terms of mediation. (shrink)
After several technological revolutions in which technologies became ever more present in our daily lives, the digital technologies that are currently being developed are actually fading away from sight. Information and Communication Technologies are not only embedded in devices that we explicitly “use” but increasingly become an intrinsic part of the material environment in which we live. How to conceptualize the role of these new technological environments in human existence? And how to anticipate the ways in which these technologies will (...) mediate our everyday lives? In order to answer these questions, we draw on two approaches that each offers a framework to conceptualize these new technological environments: Postphenomenology and Material Engagement Theory. As we will show, each on their own, these approaches fail to do justice to the new environmental role of technology and its implications for human existence. But by bringing together Postphenomenology’s account of technological mediation and Material Engagement Theory’s account of engaging with environments, it becomes possible to sufficiently account for the new environmental workings of technology. To do justice to these new workings of environmental technologies, we introduce and develop the concept of “Technological Environmentality.”. (shrink)
Numerous studies in the fields of Science and Technology Studies and philosophy of technology have repeatedly stressed that scientific practices are collective practices that crucially depend on the presence of scientific technologies. Postphenomenology is one of the movements that aims to draw philosophical conclusions from these observations through an analysis of human–technology interactions in scientific practice. Two other attempts that try to integrate these insights into philosophy of science are Ronald Giere’s Scientific Perspectivism and Davis Baird’s Thing Knowledge. In this (...) paper, these two approaches will be critically discussed from the perspective of postphenomenology. We will argue that Giere and Baird problematically assume that scientific instruments have a determined function, and that all human members of a scientific collective have immediate access to this function. However, these assumptions also allow them to offer a clear answer to the question how scientists can collectively relate to scientific phenomena. Such an answer is not yet formulated within the postphenomenological perspective. By adding a postphenomenological touch to the semiotic approach in Actor-Network Theory, we offer an account of how different individual human–technology relations are integrated into larger scientific collectives. We do so by showing that scientific instruments not only help constitute scientific phenomena, but also the intersubjectivity within such collectives. (shrink)
According to Max Weber, the “fate of our times” is characterized by a “disenchantment of the world.” The scientific ambition of rationalization and intellectualization, as well as the attempt to master nature through technology, will greatly limit experiences of and openness for the transcendent, i.e. that which is beyond our control. Insofar as transcendence is a central aspect of virtually every religion and all religious experiences, the development of science and technology will, according to the Weberian assertion, also limit the (...) scope of religion. In this paper, we will reflect on the relations between technology and transcendence from the perspective of technological mediation theory. We will show that the fact that we are able to technologically intervene in the world and ourselves does not imply that we can completely control the rules of life. Technological interference in nature is only possible if the structures and laws that enable us to do that are recognized and to a certain extent obeyed, which indicates that technological power cannot exist without accepting a transcendent order in which one operates. Rather than excluding transcendence, technology mediates our relation to it. (shrink)
Erratum to: Book Symposium on Peter Paul Verbeek’s Moralizing Technology: Understanding and Designing the Morality of Things . Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011 Content Type Journal Article Category Erratum Pages 1-27 DOI 10.1007/s13347-011-0058-z Authors Evan Selinger, Dept. Philosophy, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY, USA Don Ihde, Dept. Philosophy, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, USA Ibo van de Poel, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands Martin Peterson, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, the Netherlands Peter-Paul Verbeek, Dept. Philosophy, (...) Twente University, Enschede, the Netherlands Journal Philosophy & Technology Online ISSN 2210-5441 Print ISSN 2210-5433. (shrink)
Erratum to: Philos. Technol.DOI 10.1007/s13347-011-0054-3The original version of this article was inadvertently published with an incorrect title, author group and layout. The corrected version was published in Philos. Technol. (2012) 25:605–631 (DOI 10.1007/s13347-011-0058-z).
Pieter Lemmens’ neo-Marxist approach to technology urges us to rethink how to do political philosophy of technology. First, Lemmens’ high level of abstraction raises the question of how empirically informed a political theory of technology needs to be. Second, his dialectical focus on a “struggle” between humans and technologies reveals the limits of neo-Marxism. Political philosophy of technology needs to return “to the things themselves”. The political significance of technologies cannot be reduced to its origins in systems of production or (...) social organization, but requires study at the micro-level, where technologies help to shape engagement, interaction, power, and social awareness. (shrink)