Not Signed-In
Which clippings match 'Value Laden' keyword pg.1 of 1
08 NOVEMBER 2013

The struggle for technology: instrumentalism versus culture

"This age–old conflict about social status remains at the heart of present–day struggles over the meanings of technology. On one side, defenders of technicians view technologies as creative expressions of human culture. In this view, technology is imbued with human values and strivings in all their contradictory complexity. I term this position the 'cultural' approach to technology. On the other side are those who see technological action as a narrow form of rationality that seeks only the best means for a given end. For such people, technology is something purely technical, essentially uncreative and devoid of values, subordinate to ends given by others. I call this second position the 'instrumental' conception of technology. ...

the discourse of technology favors the instrumental over the cultural. An entire tradition of philosophical critique is based on a reduction of technology to instrumental rationality. But technological enthusiasts also embrace the instrumental definition of technology. From their perspective, our modern technological civilization represents the embodiment of reason in the world, with new technologies as the vanguard of progress. Technological utopians like Kevin Kelly epitomize this instrumental perspective. In contrast, the cultural understanding of technology recognizes the creativity expressed in everything from steam engines to iPhones. But the cultural approach is definitely in the minority. This view is most common among people like me, historians of technology and other scholars who connect technological choices to specific aspects of culture and society."

(Eric Schatzberg, Rethinking Technology)



aesthetic creativity • aesthetic sensibility • aristocratic hierarchies • concrete material practices • contradictory complexity • craft skills • creative expression • creativity and craft • cultural concept of technologycultural practicescultural technologycultural understanding of technologyculture and society • Eric Schatzberg • fear of technology • formal knowledge • genius of the individualhuman agencyinstrumental conception of technology • instrumental means • instrumental rationality • instrumentalism • inventive genius • just a tool • Karl Capek • Kevin Kellylate modernitymaterial culture • means to an end • modern technological civilization • new technologies • non-technical qualities • out of controlprogress narrativesscientific knowledgesocial hierarchiessymptomatic determinism • technical elite • technical skill • technician • technological action • technological choices • technological determinism • technological enthusiasts • technological instrumentalismtechnological utopianismtechnology as neutral • technology discourse • technology is a tooltechnology neutralitytechnology transparency • transparent technologies • value ladenvalues


Simon Perkins
06 JANUARY 2013

Science depends on interpretation, community and tradition

"The beacons of the philosophy of science include Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend, and Bruno Latour who refute scientism from various angles: arguing that scientific observations are theory and value laden, science takes place within communities, science can be anarchic, etc, all suggesting that science is as dependent on processes of interpretation, community, and tradition as any aspect of the humanities."

(Richard Coyne, 2011)

Excerpted from a letter to the editor, first published in ARQ: Richard Coyne (2011). What's science got to do with it?. Architectural Research Quarterly, 15 , pp 205–206, doi:10.1017/S135913551100073X



2011anarchic • Architectural Research Quarterly • ARQ • Baruch SpinozaBruno Latour • Chris Argyris • codify • Donald Schon • encyclopaedism • externality • General Systems Theory • GST • Herbert SimonJohn DeweyKarl Popper • letter to the editor • logical positivism • Ludwig von Bertalanffy • optimistic scientism • Paul Feyerabend • Peter Ramus • philosophy of sciencerationalityresearch culturesRichard Coynescience • science communities • science interpretation • scientific knowledgescientific observationsscientific traditionscientismsystematisationsystems theorytechnology as neutralThomas Kuhnvalue ladenVienna Circle


Simon Perkins
01 APRIL 2007

Images do not embody information about their use

"Most of the knowledge that we have of pre–literate societies comes from the interpretation of archaeological 'works' that have survived. However, key aspects of the argument are speculative. Let me take as an example the cave paintings at Lascaux. Opinion is divided about whether the paintings show a hunting expedition or represent a ritual activity in which image–animals are slaughtered symbolically as an auspicious prelude to the actual hunt. The reason that this important distinction cannot be reliably made is because the images do not embody information about their use, i.e. whether it is depictive or symbolic. This is not a problem confined to objects of great antiquity. For example, there is little material difference between a pair of chop–sticks and a pair of knitting–needles except the cultures in which they are found and the way in which they are used. This is even more apparent if one considers that there is nothing about their physical form that prevents them being exchanged and the one used for the purpose of the other."

(Michael A. R. Biggs, 2003, Practice as Research in Performance)



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