Technologies of Humility
Sheila Jasanoff’s “Technologies of Humility” are new approaches to decision-making that ‘seek to integrate the ‘can-do’ orientation of science and engineering with the ‘should-do’ questions of ethical and political analysis” (Jasanoff, 2003). In other words, technology needs to be accountable in the production and use of scientific knowledge. The whole premise is to ask the questions: what is the purpose; who will be hurt; who beneﬁts; and how can we know?” These questions are presented a counter-balance to what Jasanoff refers to as “technologies of hubris”—a command and control approach to science and technology. The idea behind ‘technologies of humility’ is to consider the consequences of a particular invention/technology through the review of various groups – community, professionals, etc. Oftentimes the consequences are not considered prior to the technology being put out into the community. Framing: In 1800 Thomas Jefferson wanted to develop a waterway to promote the movement of products across the country. As such, the invention of transportation was designed initially to move material and products from one point to another more efficiently and improve economies. The elements not initially considered were the roadblocks they would encounter. The waterway that Jefferson envisioned was not quite possible due to the Rocky Mountains that divided the land and the lack of a waterway across North America. There were also elements such as the fuel needed to operate the boats, trains and cars, the maintenance required and the pollution these vehicles would ultimately cause. Vulnerability: People who live near railroads experience health issues ranging from asthma to cancers due to the pollution and toxic fumes emitted. Not only are many people affected
Technologies of Humility
by the pollution produced by trains and cars, but the environment has suffered as a result. Global warming is in part due to the excessive...
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Schwartz, N. (2011) California Railroad Pollution: Two US Railroads Face Unique Lawsuit, Huffington Post, Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/18/california-railroad-pollution_n_1018568.html, March 22, 2014
Winston, M. and Edelbach, R. (2014) Society, Ethics, & Technology, Fifth Edition, Wadsworth Cengage Learning, Boston, MA
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