Discussing Technology — Breaking the Ground

  • Allan Janik
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 114)


Strong claims have been made on behalf of the digital computer’s capacity to surpass human beings as thinkers. It has been claimed that computers can eventually replace human thinking completely. The overwhelming philosophical difficulties involved in this claim have been acutely analyzed by Hubert Dreyfus in his book, What Computers Can’t Do.1 More recently, Joseph Weizenbaum, a distinguished authority on artificial intelligence, has carried the critique of computer simulation of human intelligence beyond Dreyfus. In his book, Computer Power and Human Reason,2 Weizenbaum argues passionately and persuasively that there are potential catastrophes in the attitudes that the artificial intelligence community are fostering towards the digital computer in society at large. While I do not find all of their arguments equally convincing or well-formulated, I do not think that I am able to add significantly to them. This debate has raised nearly all of the significant questions facing intellectuals today. I would like to focus on some of the less discussed but none-the-less important issues before us: when should we abandon beliefs? and what are our obligations to convince our adversaries?


Digital Computer Chapter VIII Instrumental Reason Copernican Revolution Modem Society 
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  2. 2.
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allan Janik
    • 1
  1. 1.Brenner ArchiveInnsbruck UniversityAustria

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