Ethical Reflections on Technology


Technology refers to a wide variety of activities that are undertaken in order to solve a problem, create something or organize a process. Typical examples include designing a car, constructing a home, or performing a scientific experiment. It is also used in more narrow senses, such as to describe a technique or a product.

While science and technology are often considered to be synonymous, the two are actually very different. For instance, while science is concerned with the study of nature, technology deals with the use of tools to achieve a desired result.

One of the most important aspects of technology is its origins. The word itself has its roots in the Indo-European root tek. Initially, the term referred to skills used in building wooden houses by wattling. Later it expanded to encompass specialized expertise, including medicine.

In addition to the technical aspects, technology is also important for its role in society. New technologies can disrupt social hierarchies, and can have deep societal ramifications.

A number of disciplines can be involved in ethical reflections on technology. These include social science, engineering, and anthropology. However, it is often difficult to determine the best process for identifying and evaluating new technologies.

The first part of this process is to identify and assess the scope of the technology. This involves disentangling the descriptive from the prescriptive. As a rule, the latter requires a clear definition of what is meant by the word.

During the nineteenth century, foundational issues were very prominent. A close relationship between scientists and philosophers was apparent.

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