Philosophy of Technology
Technology is a collection of tools and techniques used to achieve practical goals. It includes both physical objects and intangible ones.
The use of technology has made life easier for many people. However, it can also cause harm. New technologies can impact the environment, as well as human lives.
A philosophy of technology is the study of how the field of science and technology works. In a sense, it is almost as old as the field of philosophy itself.
Philosophical reflection on technology is a growing branch of philosophy. One of the earliest examples is the thesis that technology learns from nature.
Aside from a plethora of philosophical works on this subject, the most significant testimony on the topic comes from ancient Greece. Ancient Greek philosophers were influenced by science and nature, and were highly critical of the misuse of technology.
During the late nineteenth century, there was a widespread critical attitude towards technology. This attitude was based on knowledge of technology obtained through humanities and social sciences, as opposed to first-hand experience in the engineering field.
During the twentieth century, there was a shift in this critical attitude. The focus was shifted to analyzing the role of technology in the development of society.
These philosophers usually treat technology as a black box. They don’t analyze the process by which an artifact is created, but they do look at how other phenomena influence or are impacted by technology.
One important question is how to disentangle descriptive from prescriptive aspects of technology. For example, it is possible to design a new product, but the production criteria may not be the most cost-effective.