In this course, we will discuss the ways in which our ethical and social values can and ought to influence science and technology. The technosciences are objective, value-free, rational, and inevitable: these are the myths that this course will question. We will investigate different ways in which processes of scientific research and technological development involve choices, value-judgments, and ethical responsibilities. We will read prominent historical and contemporary critiques of computers, the Internet, video games, biomedical research, consumerism, and advanced industrial civilization from a variety of ethical frameworks and value perspectives. We will consider frameworks for thinking about how to be more responsible scientists and engineers. We will explore, practically and theoretically, the beneficial roles that humanists can play in science and engineering.
The texts are on order at Off Campus Books, but not the campus bookstore.
- Hubert Dreyfus, On the Internet (2nd edition only, please),
- Evgeny Morozov, To Save Everything, Click Here
- Neal Stephenson, [In the Beginning was the Command Line](http://amzn.to/1vJ81vJ] (only recommended because you can also find it online for free).
All other readings will be made available on the course website
Schedule of Topics
- Introduction – Technology, Choices, and Values – 8/26
- What Problem are we Trying to Solve? – 9/2
- Morozov, Ch 1
- Flory & Kitcher
- The Ethics of Gathering Data – 9/9
- Ethics and Politics of Design 9/16
- Sexism in Technology – 9/23
- Watch Anita Sarkeesian’s Tropes vs Women in Video Games, focusing especially on the “Damsel in Distress” mini-series.
- Joseph Reagle, “‘Free as in sexist?’ Free culture and the gender gap,” First Monday
- What’s Wrong with “The Internet” – 9/30
- Dreyfus, Intro & Chapter 1
- Morozov, Ch 2
- Ian Bogost, “What Do We Save When We Save the Internet?” The Atlantic
- Due: Service Learning Project Brainstorm
- Transparency, Anonymity, and Commitment – 10/7
- Dreyfus, Ch 4
- Morozov Ch 3
- danah boyd, “The Politics of ‘Real Names’: Power, Context, and Control in Networked Publics”
- If time permits, read:
- Adele Santana, Donna J. Wood, “Transparency and social responsibility issues for Wikipedia”
- Judith Donath, “We Need Online Alter Egos Now More Than Ever” (or shorter summary, “Can Pseudonyms Make Better Online Citizens?”)
- The Limits of Virtual Presence – 10/14
- Dreyfus, Ch 2,3,5
- Gamification – 10/21
- Lessons from the History of Technology – 10/28
- Stephenson, In the Beginning was the Command Line…
- Watch: Ted Nelson, Computers for Cynics
- Read: Ted Nelson, “Ted Nelson’s Computer Paradigm, Expressed as One-Liners”
- Heidegger’s Existential Critique of Technology – 11/4
- Martin Heidegger, “The Question Concerning Technology”
- Dreyfus, “Heidegger on Gaining a Free Relation to Technology”
- Due: Annotated Bibliography for Service Learning Project
- Marcuse’s Critical Theory of Technology – 11/11
- Techno-conservatism – 11/18
- Thanksgiving – no class – 11/25
- A Pragmatic Approach to Technology – 12/2
- Service Learning Project Group Presentations – 12/9
- All Project Documentation due for Service Learning Project
Other Important Dates:
- 12/10, 3:00-4:30pm: Senior Design Day – 1 member of each team to attend and rate posters
- 12/12: Individual papers about service learning project due.
- 12/16, 5:00pm-7:45pm: Final Exam
Each component is weighted equally.
- Class participation – The best way to learn philosophy is to discuss it. Includes attendance, small and large group discussions.
- Ethics Advising Project – Advise engineering students on the ethical issues in their projects.
- Service Learning Project – Work together in groups to think critically about some public problem in technology and create a project that works to ameliorate that problem.
- Final Exam – Cumulative.