Unpacking Feenberg

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This brief slideshow is intended to help student understand a brief selection from Andrew Feenberg's book Questioning Technology that deals with technological determinism.

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Unpacking Feenberg

  1. 1. Unpacking Feenberg’s Argument about Technological Determinism BHP 206, Fall 2009 Tim McGee
  2. 2. Organizational Preview <ul><li>Who is Andrew Feenberg? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the Philosophy of Technology? </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding Chart 1 </li></ul><ul><li>Unpacking “The Limits of Technical Rationality” </li></ul><ul><li>Analyzing Feenberg’s Main Claims </li></ul>
  3. 3. Andrew Feenberg <ul><li>Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Technology, Simon Frasier University, School of Communication </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.sfu.ca/~andrewf/ </li></ul>
  4. 4. What Is the Philosophy of Technology? <ul><li>A philosophical field dedicated to studying the nature of technology and its social effects. </li></ul><ul><li>Not to be confused with the history of technology, the history of science, or the philosophy of science. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Who Are Some Other Philosophers of Technology? <ul><li>Karl Marx </li></ul><ul><li>John Dewey </li></ul><ul><li>Martin Heidegger </li></ul><ul><li>Herbert Marcuse </li></ul><ul><li>Marshall McLuhan </li></ul><ul><li>Jean Baudrillard </li></ul><ul><li>Albert Borgmann </li></ul><ul><li>Langdon Winner </li></ul><ul><li>Donna Haraway </li></ul><ul><li>Avital Ronell </li></ul><ul><li>Don Ihde </li></ul><ul><li>Bruno Latour </li></ul><ul><li>Paul Levinson </li></ul><ul><li>Carl Mitcham </li></ul><ul><li>Leo Marx </li></ul><ul><li>Paul Levinson </li></ul><ul><li>Carl Mitcham </li></ul><ul><li>Leo Marx </li></ul><ul><li>Gilbert Simondon, </li></ul><ul><li>Jacques Ellul </li></ul><ul><li>Bernard Stiegler </li></ul>
  6. 6. Chart 1: Varieties of Theory Critical Theory (choice of alternative means-ends systems) Substantivism (means and ends linked in systems) Value-laden (means form a way of life that includes ends) Instrumentalism (liberal faith in progress) Determinism (e.g., traditional Marxism) Neutral (complete separation of means and ends) Humanly Controlled Autonomous Technology Is:
  7. 7. Gas Chamber Victims and Atomic Bomb Damage
  8. 8. Max Weber’s Pessimistic View of Modernity <ul><li>“ According to Weber, modernity is characterized by the increasing role of calculation and control in social life, a trend leading to what he called the ‘iron cage’ of bureaucracy” (75). </li></ul><ul><li>In pessimistic philosophies of technology, “human beings have become mere cogs in the social machinery , objects of technical control in much the same way as raw materials and the natural environment” (75). </li></ul>
  9. 9. Contra Weber, Feenberg Argues for “Democratic Rationalization” <ul><li>Technology is ambivalent. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Conservation of hierarchy: social hierarchy can generally be preserved and reproduced as new technology is introduced.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Democratic rationalization: new technology can all be used to undermine the existing social hierarch or to force it to meet needs it has ignored.” (76) </li></ul>
  10. 10. Faith in Progress Based on Two Widely Held Deterministic Beliefs <ul><li>“ Technical necessity dictates the path of development.” </li></ul><ul><li>The path of development “is discovered through the pursuit of efficiency.” </li></ul><ul><li>Feenberg claims that both of these beliefs are false and that “they have anti-democratic implications.” (77) </li></ul>

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