Focaltechnics, Pragmatechnics, and the Reform of Technology

Larry Hickman

in Technology and the Good Life?

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2000 | ISBN: 9780226333861
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226333885 | DOI:
Focaltechnics, Pragmatechnics, and the Reform of Technology

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This chapter addresses two related questions: How can we evaluate appropriate and inappropriate technology? And how can we evaluate focal things and practices, for surely many of them are troubling? The chapter, inspired by John Dewey's work, has developed a pragmatic philosophy of technology—pragmatechnics. The chapter contrasts pragmatechnics with focaltechnics, a characterization of Borgmann's vision of appropriate technology. Borgmann presents a rigid essentialism, splitting technology into “two ledger columns” of bad and good. The device paradigm is bad; devices as supportive of focal things are good. The chapter argues for a “flexible functionalism” that would counter what is perceived here as a tendency by Borgmann to reduce a device to an essential property. This chapter's claim is that pragmatechnics are more flexible and better for understanding the complexities of contemporary technological life.

Keywords: pragmatechnics; focaltechnics; Borgmann; technology; device paradigm; flexible functionalism

Chapter.  7601 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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