On variational cross-examination: a method for postphenomenological multistability

AI and Society (forthcoming)

Abstract

How should we understand postphenomenological methodology? Postphenomenology is a research perspective which builds on phenomenological and pragmatist philosophy to explore human–technology relations, but one with open methodological questions. Here, I offer some thoughts on the epistemological processes that should be at work in this research. In particular, I am concerned with postphenomenological research on technological “multistability,” i.e., a device’s ever-present capacity to be used for a variety of purposes, and to always be meaningful in multiple ways. I develop a methodology called “variational cross-examination,” which entails the critical contrast of a device’s various stabilities. As a set of instructive examples, I draw on my own line of research on the politics of public spaces, and especially the critique of anti-homeless design.

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Robert Rosenberger
Georgia Institute of Technology

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