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Technology & Human Values (NCHPH757)

15 Credits

This course explores the social, political, and ethical dimensions of emerging technologies. Technology – conceived as tools, processes, and methods used to achieve goals – is as old as humanity itself. Technology so permeates our form of life that some have characterised human beings as the technological animal. While our relationship with technology is given, the precise nature of this relationship is not. The contemporary world and human history are replete with diverse and sometimes contradictory ways of conceiving of how people and technology interact.

This course is oriented around the following general questions: (1) What is the proper way to understand the relationship between humanity and technology? (2) What critical perspectives and tools can we use to evaluate the social, ethical, and political dimensions of technology? (3) How can we make good decisions about incorporating emerging technologies into our society and lives? (4) What are the relevant dimensions by which we might assess which technologies are appropriate, and to what ends? While the exploration of ethical debates surrounding technology and our relationship to it will typically involve engaging in philosophical analysis, this course will also draw upon insights from sociology, anthropology, political science, and technology studies.

Indicative Topics

  • Humankind’s relationship with technology
  • Challenges posed by automated weaponry and vehicles: risk, responsibility, and control
  • Doping in sport
  • Genetic selection, enhancement, and eugenics
  • Feminist perspectives on reproductive technologies
  • Technology and human relationships, from sex robots to care work
  • The impact of automation on labour and inequality
  • The impact of technology on democracy
  • Pandemic ethics