, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 93-102
Date: 14 Nov 2009

The ‘measure of a man’ and the ethos of hospitality: towards an ethical dwelling with technology

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Abstract

In this paper, I argue for the impossible possibility of an ethical dwelling with technology. In arguing for an ethical comportment in our dealing with technology, I am not only arguing for the consideration of the ethical implications of technology (which we already do) but also, and more importantly, for an ethics of technological artefacts qua technology. Thus, I attempt to argue for a decentering (or rather overcoming) of anthropocentric ethics, urging us to move beyond any centre, whatever it may be—anthropological, biological, etc. I argue that if we take ethics seriously we must admit that our measure cannot be that of man. To develop the argument, I use an episode in Star Trek where the fate of the highly sophisticated android Commander Data is to be decided. I show how the moral reasoning about Data remains anthropocentric but hints to other possibilities. I proceed to use the work of Derrida and Levinas (with some help from Heidegger) to suggest a possible way to think (and do) an ethos beyond traditional ethics—an ethics of hospitality in which we dwell in a community of those that have nothing in common.