Case Study: A critique of the Internet

Graduate: 3/24
Undergrad: 3/25


  • Hubert Dreyfus, On the Internet, focus on the introduction and chapters 1, 2, and 4.

See Also


So far, we have considered a variety of philosophical tools for thinking about the role of values in producing science and technology. In many cases, those tools have also been applied to evaluating current or past technoscientific developments. To put our philosophical tools to the test, and to better understand the role of values in science and technology, it is worthwhile to consider some existing and important technoscientific developments in detail.

In On the Internet, Hubert Dreyfus applies a variety of philosophical ideas, including those of Heidegger, Dewey, Kierkegaard, and Merleau-Ponty to various Internet tools and practices. In this short book, Dreyfus discusses the organization of information via hyperlinks (the main protocol for the Web), distance learning, telepresence, anonymous forums and chat rooms, and virtual worlds like Second Life. Dreyfus gives us reasons to be skeptical of the unbridled optimism that we often see in discussions of the Internet. (You should compare Dreyfus’s critique to Morozov’s more recent critique of the Internet in the context of technological solutionism from week 5.)

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