Ethics of Technology - History, Philosophy and Methodology...

Technology ethics

A wide discussion of the problems of responsibility in the philosophy of technology led to a distinction between such types of it as:

• Individual and institutional, as well as group responsibility;

• responsibility of the manager and distributed, cooperative responsibility of the co-executor;

• responsibility for active action or inaction, which has caused negative consequences;

• formal and informal; indirect and immediate; legal and moral responsibility;

• responsibility before himself, before society.

All this naturally led to the posing of a complex problem of distribution responsibility and the emergence of a multitude of questions on which it is necessary to seek an answer in each specific case. It is this goal that serves ethical reflection.


The analysis of accidents and disasters helps to identify the most common dilemmas associated, for example, with role responsibility. How should an engineer act in a situation potentially fraught with negative consequences if he simultaneously acts as a project manager, on the success and timely implementation of which depends further funding for his research? And if he is also a resident of the city, a good friend, the father of the family? Should he think of people who may be affected by his decision? In such cases, role contradictions and conflicts usually arise, which are not always administratively or legally, but are almost always morally accountable. At the same time, of course, the question remains: who is accountable? - the authorities, the family, society, himself, the Lord God?

So, the perspective that opens in connection with the existence of a problem of responsibility is not the abandonment of technology in general, a technical attitude toward the world, without which the existence of human civilization is impossible, and the search for new, more humane forms of such a relationship. We are only at the beginning of the road, therefore the task is to change the very internal installation of technical science and engineering. This can be done through a reorientation of engineering thinking, primarily through engineering education. This is one of the tasks of the philosophy of technology.

If we proceed from the premise of technological determinism, then technical ethics is just a kind of "musical accompaniment" to technical development. But if the technical development is deterministic, then there is no question of managing it in the direction that is desirable for society or is ethically fair. The society can only forecast possible changes in order to adapt to them as early as possible. However, each specific technical development is carried out for some specific purpose; moreover, when the goal is changed, it is sometimes modified or even stopped. But if there is a goal setting, it means that the technique is planned, can be modified and, consequently, its consequences can be prevented.

A similar problem with responsibility arises in the event that the principle unpredictability or unpredictability of the side effects of the introduction of new technology and technology is asserted. How can one be held accountable for what was not known? However, the truth is always somewhere in the middle. Putting forward the thesis of insufficient predictability, one should not forget that many aspects of technical development are either predictable or susceptible to rational anticipation, and technical activity under the conditions of risk poses greater ethical requirements than activities in safe conditions.

However, technical ethics is not limited only to the professional ethics of an engineer and a designer or even a technical specialist in the broadest sense of the word. It also assumes an "ethical attitude to the use of technology," which affects society as a whole and all its members individually. In our technical world, careless handling of complex equipment can lead to disastrous consequences. In addition, technology can be used for other purposes than those for which it was created, for example in terrorist, which creates an additional risk of the functioning of technology in modern society, which becomes dependent on it. However, this also increases the responsibility of a person who, according to the figurative expression of X. Lenk, occupies a special position in the order of nature, because only he knows nature and can give explanations and predictions, using his knowledge, manipulate natural objects, adapt them to their goals . This kind of power and knowledge, even if they are negative and destructive, express a special position and create the responsibility of the knowing and ruling, and the responsibility of people extends not only to themselves and their future, but also to the entire life world.

Those who make a choice in favor of the development of certain technological directions or projects bear a concrete moral responsibility for their actions, not only before the present, but also before future generations for their decisions that are capable of harming a person or the environment, , no matter how immediate benefit they have brought to society and the state. Cardinally changed in the XX century. the situation requires the formation of a new ethic, and this is possible only through a total reorientation of not only technical thinking, but also the social consciousness and self-consciousness of each individual, starting with the kindergarten and the school. Consciousness, aimed at a completely new understanding of scientific and technological progress, in particular, the development of environmental thinking.

The ultimate goal of the technique, as the first philosophers of technology claimed, is to serve man, but in view of the sad experience of the last century, the following must be added to this: such service to man should not be harmful to the environment. Ethics of technology is an important tool of the society for design, structuring, impact on the course of technical development in the direction necessary for society. But the task of ethical reflection is not the preventive elimination of conflict situations, but the creation of boundary social conditions "of their rational overcoming, which must occur discursively, with an understanding and without the use of force."

Also We Can Offer!

Other services that we offer

If you don’t see the necessary subject, paper type, or topic in our list of available services and examples, don’t worry! We have a number of other academic disciplines to suit the needs of anyone who visits this website looking for help.

How to ...

We made your life easier with putting together a big number of articles and guidelines on how to plan and write different types of assignments (Essay, Research Paper, Dissertation etc)