Unpacking Feenberg
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Unpacking Feenberg



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

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 Unpacking Feenberg Presentation Transcript

  • Unpacking Feenberg’s Argument about Technological Determinism BHP 206, Fall 2009 Tim McGee
  • Organizational Preview
    • Who is Andrew Feenberg?
    • What is the Philosophy of Technology?
    • Understanding Chart 1
    • Unpacking “The Limits of Technical Rationality”
    • Analyzing Feenberg’s Main Claims
  • Andrew Feenberg
    • Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Technology, Simon Frasier University, School of Communication
    • http://www.sfu.ca/~andrewf/
    View slide
  • What Is the Philosophy of Technology?
    • A philosophical field dedicated to studying the nature of technology and its social effects.
    • Not to be confused with the history of technology, the history of science, or the philosophy of science.
    View slide
  • Who Are Some Other Philosophers of Technology?
    • Karl Marx
    • John Dewey
    • Martin Heidegger
    • Herbert Marcuse
    • Marshall McLuhan
    • Jean Baudrillard
    • Albert Borgmann
    • Langdon Winner
    • Donna Haraway
    • Avital Ronell
    • Don Ihde
    • Bruno Latour
    • Paul Levinson
    • Carl Mitcham
    • Leo Marx
    • Paul Levinson
    • Carl Mitcham
    • Leo Marx
    • Gilbert Simondon,
    • Jacques Ellul
    • Bernard Stiegler
  • 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:
  • Gas Chamber Victims and Atomic Bomb Damage
  • Max Weber’s Pessimistic View of Modernity
    • “ 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).
    • 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).
  • Contra Weber, Feenberg Argues for “Democratic Rationalization”
    • Technology is ambivalent.
    • “ Conservation of hierarchy: social hierarchy can generally be preserved and reproduced as new technology is introduced.”
    • “ 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)
  • Faith in Progress Based on Two Widely Held Deterministic Beliefs
    • “ Technical necessity dictates the path of development.”
    • The path of development “is discovered through the pursuit of efficiency.”
    • Feenberg claims that both of these beliefs are false and that “they have anti-democratic implications.” (77)