Technological Subversion For your third essay, please write a two to three-page.
For your third essay, please write a two to three-page (600-900 word) response to the following question:
In “Technological Subversion” (pp. 145-156), David Strong questions “the good life” that modern technology seems to afford us. What point is Strong making here, and what is your assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of his position? How does Strong’s distinction between “things” and “devices” serve to support or detract from his claims?
Please ensure that your essay addresses each component of the assigned question and that your answer is well-organized, uses excellent, college-level prose, and makes judicious use of textual evidence.
The pursuit of a utopian establishment is one based on perfection. While the creation of a utopic society is the goal of some, others understand that it is a pipe dream that cannot really come true. The book makes reference to a “new king of humility” that we as a society have discovered as a result of the various technologies and mechanisms that we had put in place. We learned of the secondary or unforeseen consequences of those technologies which greatly humbled the large majority and while the minority may not have learned of such lessons, their efforts can at least be mitigated until such time as they learn. There is a section in our reading that caught my attention which illustrates the past few sentences pretty well, “ignorance of the ultimate implications becomes itself a reason for responsible restraint-as the second best to the possession of wisdom itself.” (Winston, Edelbach, 2012, pp. 126)
The tension that exists between this “new humility” and the pursuit of utopian visions is centered on understanding what is, what can be, and knowing that there can never truly be a one-size-fits-all solution. This can be illustrated by, “technological power has turned what used and out to be tentative, perhaps enlightening, plays of speculative reason into competing blueprints for projects.” (Winston, Edelbach, 2012, pp. 125). By going the route of attempting to have technology solve every single problem, we invite issues later down the road when those very technologies produce unintended side effects and consequences. We must show a certain level of humility and wisdom with the very technology we seek to create so that we can avoid those very problems.
Winston, M. E., & Edelbach, R. (2014). Society, ethics, and technology. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Ian Barbour describes the consequentialist view as utilitarianism, which he says is “the greatest happiness for the greater number” (Winston, Edelbach, 2012, pp. 114). It is a theory of consequences referring to the actions of humans and only applied to the present state but does not address the future of the society or technological world. This theory fell short because it does not address future costs and benefits. It does not quantify what the great good would be. Utilitarianism suggests that distribution among people of the society is not as important as the total good of it. It is based entirely on consequences and fails to see that rights, duties, and obligations of a person are alternatives to merely using the less advantaged as a means to the happiness of the majority. Barbour says that duties and obligation are “choice acts that are right in themselves, apart from the calculation of consequences” (Winston, Edelbach, 2012, pp. 115). This assumption is based on the deontological approach. Barbour stressed that rights and duties “trump” an obligation to promote the greatest good (Winston, Edelbach, 2012, pp. 114). Individual rights and freedoms should far outweigh sacrificing a lesser group of people of the society. Immanuel Kant suggested that “fundamental rights must not be violated even in the interest of the beneficial social consequences” (Winston, Edelbach, 2012, pp. 116). Freeman Dyson sums up the failure of these traditional resources, in theory, when in applied to technological development by saying technological innovation increases social inequality. These technologies benefit those who can afford them and who have control over them. Because technology is a source of power, those that control it have power over certain groups in society (Winston, Edelbach, 2012, pp. 132).
Winston, M., & Edelbach, R. (2012). Perspectives on Technology. In Society, Ethics, and Technology, (Updated Fourth ed). Boston, MA: Wadsworth.