Technology is one of the most powerful forces in society today. It has become a force in politics, economics, and culture. While most technology is used peacefully, many weapons of increasing destructive power have been developed throughout the centuries. As a result, the use of new technologies often raises questions about ethics.
The relationship between technology and society has been described as synergistic or co-dependent. This relationship has been observed since the dawn of humankind. However, it has not always been this positive. Various aspects of technology have been criticized, and its interaction with other areas of society has been a problem that has been difficult to adequately address.
In a broad sense, technology refers to the knowledge and techniques required to combine resources and solve problems. These include the skills and materials necessary to perform certain tasks, as well as the tools and equipment used to accomplish these tasks. When used for the purpose of solving problems, technology combines and synthesizes various types of knowledge to produce an artifact. Such artifacts can range from simple tools to complex machines.
Aristotle’s doctrine of the four causes is an early contribution to the philosophy of technology. Aristotle explained the doctrine by referring to technical artifacts and examples from nature. He argued that artisans were not necessarily concerned with the art itself but rather with the need to earn a living.
Although the term technology is generally thought of as synonymous with material objects, in fact, many technological processes also produce unwanted byproducts. For example, the intentional act of creating something leads to waste products such as dust, smoke, and noise. Therefore, it is important to distinguish between descriptive and prescriptive aspects of technology.
Several different philosophical approaches have evolved over time to examine the issues that technology poses for society. These differ in their philosophical orientation and methodology. Some have been inspired by pragmatism and discourse ethics. Others are founded on the theory of the institutional power relations that rule technology.
Many philosophers have argued for a democratization of the technological process. They argue that the ordinary citizens should be given a say in how the technologies of the future are designed. Those who advocate this view have referred to technology as “technology for the people.”
There are two major types of philosophical perspectives in the study of technology. The first, a historical perspective, focuses on the origins of technology and its impact on human society. During the early twentieth century, this approach was emphasized in a number of books.
The second, a cultural approach, argues that technology is a cultural phenomenon. This is a logical extension of the traditional philosophical perspective of the first half of the twentieth century. Several works have focused on technological issues, including Industrial Society and its Future, by Theodore Kaczynski.
Despite these various approaches, the common theme in each of them is that technology is not only a physical object but is also a practice. The creation of an artifact involves a structured process that leads to a specific goal.