, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 44-51

First online:

Technology and prognostic predicaments

  • Don IhdeAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, SUNY at Stony Brook Email author 

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As societies become increasingly technologised, the need for careful and critical assessment rises. However, attempts to assess or normatively evaluate technological development invariably meet with an antinomy: both structurally and historically, technologies display multistable possibilities regarding uses, effects, side effects and other outcomes. Philosophers, usually expected to play applied ethics roles, often come to the scene after these effects are known. But others who participate at the research and development stages find even more difficulties with prognosis. Recent work on ‘revenge’ effects (Tenner) and negative side effects (Kevles) are examined, as well as several cases of philosophers in ‘R&D’ roles. After sketching the antinomy,I outline a heuristic pragmatics of prognosis that addresses this quandary.

Key Words

Assessment Ethics Prognosis Research and development Side effects