Toward a social ethics of technology

(0)

I've been trying to think about how populations can have some influence over technology -- how to even start understanding how to think about having influence over technology -- for some time. This paper, Devon, Richard. Towards a Social Ethics of Technology: A Research Prospect, Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology, Vol. 8, No. 1, 2004, which I found via Anne Galloway's blog is very rich food for thought. Design plays a central role in this approach -- it is, after all, the earliest point at which intervention is possible and effective -- as Galloway points out.

Taking a social ethics approach means recognizing not only that the ends and means of technology are appropriate subjects for the ethics of technology, but also that differences in value systems that emerge in almost all decision-making about technology are to be expected. The means of handling differences, such as conflict resolution processes, models of technology management, and aspects of the larger political system, must be studied. This is not to suggest that engaging in political behavior on behalf of this cause or that is what ethics is all about. That remains a decision to be made at the personal level. Rather, the ethics of technology is to be viewed as a practical science. This means engaging in the study of, and the improvement of, the ways in which we collectively practice decision making in technology. Such an endeavor can enrich and guide the conduct of individuals, but it is very different than focusing on the behavior of individuals in a largely predetermined world in which their options are often severely constrained...

Originally posted on Smart Mobs by Howard