This book inquires into the question: How to think about ethics in a technological world? This question has three facets: technological advance poses new challenges for ethics, traditional ethics may become poorly applicable in a technological world, and the progress in science and technology has undermined ethical thinking itself. A thematic treatment of these three dimensions of the problematic is followed by an analysis of three central approaches to the questions framed. These are Hans Jonas' ethics of responsibility, Albert Borgmann's phenomenological analysis of everyday life in a technological civilization, and Larry Hickman's pragmatist philosophy of technology. The inquiry concludes with a sketch of future directions for ethics of technology. This includes assessing the roles of applied ethics, science and technology studies (STS), and philosophy of technology in ethics of technology. While the author agrees on the need for an interdisciplinary dialogue between these three traditions, he argues for the primacy of philosophy of technology in thinking about ethics in technology. Furthermore, the centrality of "mid-level ethics" is elaborated on in the conclusion.
Here mid-level refers to ethically pregnant phenomena in the realm between instantaneous choices by an individual (micro level), and questions about fundamental principles of justice and societal goods (macro level). Mid-level thus concerns, for instance, habits, practices, and communal institutions.
Topi Heikkero is tutor at St. John's College, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Preface Acknowledgments Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 2: The Question of Ethics in a Technological World Chapter 3: Hans Jonas: Technology and Responsibility Chapter 4: Albert Borgmann: Technology and the Good Life Chapter 5: Larry Hickman: Technology and Functionality Chapter 6: Thinking Further: Ethics and Technology Chapter 7: Conclusions