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Chapter 17 ~ “Technology and Ethics” by Kristin Shrader-Frechete August 31, 2009

Posted by Shon in 5369, Carter, Philosophy of Technology, TCR.
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First paragraph of Shrader-Frechete’s work harkens back to Ellul’s thoughts of how “the men of classical antiquity could not have found a solution to our present determinisms, and it is useless to look into the works of Plato or Aristotle for an answer…” Because of technology, according to Shrader-Frechete, new ethical questions are raised. Those who look to answer these questions, however, must be well-versed in philosophy, technical skills, and economics because the answers will not only affect the technology but also society as a whole.  The philosophical issues that concern technology and ethics are not for the lighthearted. There are some technologies that are too new to evaluate, there are issues with how much risk is too much risk, how safe is safe enough, what threats do technology pose on due process, and who truly “consents” to the risk attributable to technological advances. Toward the end of the piece, Shrader-Frechete states that “those who claim that both workers and the public have given consent to technological risks” defend their beliefs by claiming “society’s acceptance of the economic benefits created by hazardous technologies constitutes implicit acceptance of the technologies.” Because I believe, like I think Shrader-Frechete does, that many individuals in society do not understand the sophisticated technologies or their risks, I found it hard to see how these same people who make up society would accept the economic benefits created by hazardous materials. Perhaps, as Ellul suggests, these people are not truly free because they do not understand the technological world in which they live.