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Introduction to Philosophy of Technology

Mark Coeckelbergh

Publication Date - November 2019

ISBN: 9780190939809

336 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

A cutting-edge and comprehensive overview of the field


Addressing the technological opportunities and challenges of the 21st century, Introduction to Philosophy of Technology offers the most up-to-date and comprehensive overview of philosophy of technology available. It covers several of the classic theories and approaches, but also moves beyond them to explore a broader range of theories and a number of new dynamics in the field, including responding to new technological developments. Esteemed scholar Mark Coeckelbergh emphasizes how new technological developments stimulate philosophical thinking--and rethinking--and how philosophers of technology could do more to interact with other subdisciplines in philosophy and fields beyond academia, such as art and policy.


  • Comprehensive, systematic, and up-to-date coverage of philosophy of technology
  • Includes case studies throughout
  • Engages with fields beyond the philosophy of technology, including ethics, philosophy of language, innovation, and policy (see Part 4)
  • Shows how technological developments stimulate philosophical thinking (see Part III)
  • Each chapter ends with review questions, discussion questions, recommended reading, and key terms

About the Author(s)

Mark Coeckelbergh is Professor of Media and Technology in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Vienna and was also President of the Society for Philosophy and Technology. He is the author of twelve books and a member of the High Level Expert Group on AI of the European Commission.


"Introduction to Philosophy of Technology is a model of philosophical clarity. Many will be thrilled to have a textbook written by such an eminent scholar in the field as Professor Coeckelbergh."--Shannon Vallor, Santa Clara University

"This text is logical, cohesive, and clearly communicated. It is the first and only textbook in the philosophy of technology that is designed for and that can scale to the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century."--David Gunkel, Northern Illinois University

"I would rate the overall quality of this book as excellent. One can imagine students getting excited about the philosophy of technology, and philosophy in general, from reading Coeckelbergh's work. He writes in a student-friendly manner, with clear and accessible prose."--Diane Michelfelder, Macalester College

Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    Case/Technology: Nuclear Technology and the Atomic Bomb
    1.1. Thinking about Technology?
    1.2. Approach, Structure of the Book, and Overview of Chapters
    2. History and Landscape
    Case: Technology, Knowledge, and Memory
    2.1. Beginnings: Two Ancient Myths
    In Focus: Bernard Stiegler
    2.2. A Brief History of the Discipline
    Technology: The Time Machine
    2.3. Historical Context, Landscape of the Discipline, and Critical Questions
    Technology: The Industrial Revolution
    In Focus: Carl Mitcham
    3. Phenomenology and Hermeneutics: Heidegger, McLuhan, and Contemporary Work
    Case/Technology: Robotics and Artificial Intelligence and the Question about Mastery
    3.1. Heidegger's Essay Concerning Technology: Beyond an Instrumental Understanding of Technology
    In Focus: Martin Heidegger
    3.2. McLuhan's Understanding of Media
    In Focus: Marshall McLuhan
    In Focus: Maurice Merleau-Ponty
    Case/Technology: The Internet
    3.3. Some Contemporary Work in Phenomenology and Hermeneutics of Technology
    Case/Technology: Artificial Intelligence
    In Focus: Hubert Dreyfus
    4. Postphenomenology, Material Hermeneutics, and Mediation Theory
    Case/Technology: Driving a Car
    4.1. Introduction: The Empirical Turn
    4.2. Ihde's Postphenomenology and Material Hermeneutics
    In Focus: Don Ihde
    Case/Technology: Robot as Quasi-Other
    4.3. Contemporary Postphenomenology and Mediation Theory
    In Focus: Peter-Paul Verbeek
    Technology/Case: Medical Sonography/Ultrasound
    4.4. Critical Discussion
    5. Critical Theory and Feminism
    Case: Digital Technologies in a Corporate and Capitalist Context
    5.1. Marx: Political Economy and Technology
    In Focus: Karl Marx
    5.2. Marx 2.0.: Social media and Exploitation
    Case/Technology: Social Media and Web 2.0
    5.3. Critical Theory about Technology Beyond Marx: From Marcuse and Foucault to Feenberg and Winner
    In Focus: Michel Foucault
    Case: Surveillance: The Panopticon and Airport Security
    Case: Biased Algorithms and Algorithms Not in the Interest of Consumers: Job Selection, Criminal Justice, and Online Stores
    In Focus: Andrew Feenberg
    In Focus: Langdon Winner
    5.4. Feminist Thinking about Technology
    Case: Design of Household Robots
    In Focus: Donna Haraway
    5.5. Critical Discussion
    6. Pragmatism, Analytic Approaches, and Transcultural Philosophy
    Case/Technology: Neonatal Care and Technology
    6.1. Pragmatism
    In Focus: John Dewey
    6.2. Analytic Philosophy of Technology
    Technology: Money and Contemporary Financial Technologies (Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain)
    In Focus: John Searle's Social Ontology
    6.3. Intercultural and Transcultural Philosophy of Technology?
    In Focus: Gilbert Simondon
    Case/Technology: Digital Communication Technologies and The Good Life
    7. From Information Technologies to Philosophy and Ethics of Information
    Technology: Digital and Virtual Worlds, The Matrix, and Beyond
    7.1. Introduction
    In Focus: Norbert Wiener
    7.2. All about Information: Floridi's Philosophy and Ethics of Information
    Case/Technology: Fake News and the Internet
    7.3. Critical Discussion
    7.4. Conclusions for Philosophy of Technology
    8. From Robotics and AI to Thinking about Moral Status and Human Relationships
    Case: Self-Driving Cars
    8.1. Introduction
    8.2. Moral Machines? The Discussion about Moral Agency
    Case: Biased Algorithms
    8.3. The Discussion about Moral Patiency
    8.4. Changing the Question: Toward More Relational Thinking
    In Focus: Emmanuel Levinas
    8.5. The Debate about Sex Robots and Human Relationships: Feminist (or Egalitarian) Questions
    Technology: Sex Robots
    8.6. Humans, Non-Humans, and the More-Than-Human
    9. From Genetic Engineering and Cyborgs to Transhumanism and Posthumanism
    Case/Technology: Gene Editing
    9.1. Introduction
    9.2. Transhumanism and Human Enhancement
    9.3. Posthumanism and Cyborgs
    In Focus: Haraway
    In Focus: Stelarc
    In Focus: Bruno Latour
    10. From Climate Change and Geoengineering to Questioning "Nature" and Thinking in and about the "Anthropocene"
    Case/Technology: (Solar) Radiation Management as a Method of Geoengineering
    10.1. Introduction: Earth, We Have a Problem
    10.2. The Problem With "Nature": Modern Versus Non-Modern Approaches
    Case/Technology: Central Heating Versus Wood-Burning Stove
    10.3. The Anthropocene: Some Philosophical Responses
    11. Philosophy of Technology and Other Philosophy: (Re)Connecting with Other Philosophical Subdisciplines
    Case/Technology: Social Media (2) and Its Effects on our Lives
    11.1. Introduction
    11.2. Ethics and Moral Philosophy: Thinking about Virtue and Thinking about Technology
    11.3. Philosophical Anthropology: Thinking about the Human and Thinking about Technology
    Technology: Cochlear Implants
    11.4. Philosophy of Language: Thinking about Language and Thinking about Technology
    In Focus: John Searle
    Ludwig Wittgenstein
    11.5. Other Subfields: Some Examples
    11.6. Conclusions for Philosophers of Technology
    12. Philosophy of Technology and Other Academic Disciplines: Interdisciplinarity and Transdisciplinarity
    Case/Technology: Robotics and Interdisciplinarity
    12.1. Introduction
    12.2. Some Examples of Transdisciplinary Work for Philosophers of Technology
    In Focus: Deborah Johnson
    Technology: Humanoid Robots
    In Focus: Wiebe Bijker
    12.3. Challenges for Transdisciplinary Work
    13. Philosophy of Technology and Other Practices Beyond Academia
    Case/Technology: "Killer Drones" and Activism
    13.1. Beyond Academia: Innovation, Policy, and Art
    In Focus: Jeroen Van Den Hoven
    In Focus: Robert Frodeman
    Technology: Smartphones, Tablets, and Other Smart Devices
    13.2. Some Directions and Recommendations Concerning the Future of Research in Philosophy of Technology and Its Potential Implications for Education