, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 297-299
Date: 10 Apr 2009

Lorenzo Magnani, Morality in a Technological World: Knowledge as Duty

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I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout. (Swift 1729)

Jonathan Swift, famous author of Gulliver’s Travels, wrote down the opening quote in “A Modest Proposal”, a satirical treatment of poverty in Ireland in the early 18th century. He suggested that everybody would be better off if children of the poor were no longer left to fend for themselves but instead put to good social use by being eaten. Lorenzo Magnani seems to follow a similar strategy in his book Morality in the Technological World, when he suggests that it would be ethically advisable to treat human beings as things.

The starting point of Magnani’s work is easily understood. Technology has gained a tremendous power in the modern world that, without doubt, has ethical impli ...