Among others, the term problem plays a major role in the various attempts to characterize interdisciplinarity or transdisciplinarity, as used synonymously in this paper. Interdisciplinarity is regarded as problem solving among science, technology and society and as problem orientation beyond disciplinary constraints. The point of departure of this paper is that the discourse and practice of ID have problems with the problem. The objective here is to shed some light on the vague notion of problem in order to advocate a (...) specific type of interdisciplinarity: problem-oriented interdisciplinarity. The outline is as follows: Taking an ex negativo approach, I will show what problem-oriented ID does not mean. Using references to well-established distinctions in philosophy of science, I will show three other types of ID that should not be placed under the umbrella term problem-oriented ID : object-oriented ID, theory-oriented ID, and method-oriented ID. Different philosophical thought traditions can be related to these distinguishable meanings. I will then clarify the notion of problem by looking at three systematic elements: an undesired state, a desired state, and the barriers in getting from the one to the other. These three elements include three related kinds of knowledge: systems, target, and transformation knowledge. This paper elaborates further methodological and epistemological elements of problem-oriented ID. It concludes by stressing that problem-oriented ID is the most needed as well as the most challenging type of ID. (shrink)
Collingridgeâs dilemma is one of the most well-established paradigms presenting a challenge to Technology Assessment (TA). This paper aims to reconstruct the dilemma from an analytic perspective and explicates three assumptions underlying the dilemma: the temporal, knowledge and power/actor assumptions. In the light of the recent transformation of the science, technology and innovation systemâin the age of technoscience âthese underlying assumptions are called into question. The same result is obtained from a normative angle by Collingridge himself; he criticises the dilemma (...) and advances concepts on how to keep a technology controllable. This paper stresses the relevance of the dilemma and of Collingridgeâs own ideas on how to deal with the dilemma. Today, a positive interpretation of technoscience for effective TA is possible. (shrink)
Review text: "Es gibt Bücher, die durch ihre unprätentiöse, stille und sorgfältige Vorgehensweise auf den ersten Blick über die Sensation hinwegtäuschen, die sie bloßlegen und zur Diskussion anbieten. So ein Buch ist die "Wissenschaftphilosophie? von Jan C. Schmidt, die über die "Instabilität in Natur und Wissenschaft? handelt."Günter Altner in: Naturwissenschaftliche Rundschau 9/2009.
The term “synthetic biology” is a popular label of an emerging biotechnological field with strong claims to robustness, modularity, and controlled construction, finally enabling the creation of new organisms. Although the research community is heterogeneous, it advocates a common denominator that seems to define this field: the principles of rational engineering. However, it still remains unclear to what extent rational engineering—rather than “tinkering” or the usage of random based or non-rational processes—actually constitutes the basis for the techniques of synthetic biology. (...) In this article, we present the results of a quantitative bibliometric analysis of the realized extent of rational engineering in synthetic biology. In our analysis, we examine three issues: (1) We evaluate whether work at three levels of synthetic biology (parts, devices, and systems) is consistent with the principles of rational engineering. (2) We estimate the extent of rational engineering in synthetic biology laboratory practice by an evaluation of publications in synthetic biology. (3) We examine the methodological specialization in rational engineering of authors in synthetic biology. Our analysis demonstrates that rational engineering is prevalent in about half of the articles related to synthetic biology. Interestingly, in recent years the relative number of respective publications has decreased. Despite its prominent role among the claims of synthetic biology, rational engineering has not yet entirely replaced biotechnological methods based on “tinkering” and non-rational principles. (shrink)
The objective of this paper is to contribute to the expanding discourse on conceptual elements of TA. As a point of departure, it takes the recent transformation of the science, technology and innovation system ( technoscience ). We will show that the age of technoscience can be regarded as presenting not only a challenge, but also a chance and opportunity for TA. Embracing this opportunity, however, implies imposing several requirements on TA. In order to specify these requirements and to foster (...) the ongoing discourse on the foundations of TA, this paper suggests a programmatic term: prospective technology assessment (ProTA). This term is intended mainly as a reflection framework, aimed at providing an extension and complementâand not a replacementâof well-established TA concepts. Three requirements for ProTA are sketched: (1) early stage orientationâthe temporal dimension, (2) intention and potential orientationâthe knowledge dimension, (3) shaping orientationâthe power/actor dimension. Examples from fusion and nano research will illustrate the need for ProTA, as well as its specific focus. The paper concedes that ProTA is in its infancy and that there is a clear need for further clarification. (shrink)
The program of intervening, manipulating, constructing and creating is central to natural and engineering sciences. A renewed wave of interest in this program has emerged within the recent practices and discourse of nano-technoscience. However, it is striking that, framed from the perspective of well-established epistemologies, the constructed technoscientific objects and engineered things remain invisible. Their ontological and epistemological status is unclear. The purpose of the present paper is to support present-day approaches to techno-objects ( ontology ) insofar as they make (...) these hidden objects epistemologically perceivable. To accomplish this goal, it is inspiring to look back to the origin of the project of modernity and to its founding father: Francis Bacon. The thesis is that everything we need today for an adequate (dialectic-materialist), ontologically well-informed epistemology of technoscience can be found in the works of Bacon—this position will be called epistemological real-constructivism. Rather than describing it as realist or constructivist, empiricist or rationalist, Bacon’s position can best be understood as real-constructivist since it challenges modern dichotomies, including the dichotomy between epistemology and ontology. Such real-constructive turn might serve to promote the acknowledgement that natural and engineering sciences, in particular recent technosciences, are creating and producing the world we live in. Reflection upon the contemporary relevance of Bacon is intended as a contribution to the expanding and critical discussion on nano-technoscience. (shrink)
Synthetic biology is regarded as one of the key technosciences of the future. The goal of this paper is to present some fundamental considerations to enable procedures of a technology assessment of synthetic biology. To accomplish such an early “upstream” assessment of a not yet fully developed technology, a special type of TA will be considered: Prospective TA. At the center of ProTA are the analysis and the framing of “synthetic biology,” including a characterization and assessment of the technological core. (...) The thesis is that if there is any differentia specifica giving substance to the umbrella term “synthetic biology,” it is the idea of harnessing self-organization for engineering purposes. To underline that we are likely experiencing an epochal break in the ontology of technoscientific systems, this new type of technology is called “late-modern technology.” —I start this paper by analyzing the three most common visions of synthetic biology. Then I argue that one particular vision deserves more attention because it underlies the others: the vision of self-organization. I discuss the inherent limits of this new type of late-modern technology in the attempt to control and monitor possible risk issues. I refer to Hans Jonas’ ethics and his early anticipation of the risks of a novel type of technology. I end by drawing conclusions for the approach of ProTA towards an early societal shaping of synthetic biology. (shrink)
Within the realm of nano-, bio-, info- and cogno- (or NBIC) technosciences, the ‘power to change the world’ is often invoked. One could dismiss such formulations as ‘purely rhetorical’, interpret them as rhetorical and self-fulfilling or view them as an adequate depiction of one of the fundamental characteristics of technoscience. In the latter case, a very specific nexus between science and technology, or, the epistemic and the constructionist realm is envisioned. The following paper focuses on this nexus drawing on theoretical (...) conceptions as well as empirical material. It presents an overview of different technoscientific ways to ‘change the world’—via contemplation and representation, intervention and control, engineering, construction and creation. It further argues that the hybrid character of technoscience makes it difficult (if not impossible) to separate knowledge production from real world interventions and challenges current science and technology policy approaches in fundamental ways. (shrink)
Hans Jonas’ anti-visionary conservation-oriented environmental philosophy—prominently articulated in his seminal book The Imperative of Responsibility: In Search of an Ethics for the Technological Age —had a tremendous impact on public and philosophical debates throughout the 1980s and the 1990s. Jonas argues that the “environmental crisis” reveals an underlying fundamental “crisis” in the human-nature relation. The crisis challenges the metaphysical foundations of our Western culture—including the dominant way humans view and deal with nature. Environmental ethics, therefore, requires critical reflection on and (...) revision of the underlying philosophy of nature: ethics and philosophy of nature, Jonas argues, are twin sisters. This approach provokes severe criticism: the diagnosis objection, the origin analysis objection, the justification objection, and the problem-solution objection. Most objections are not as sound as they claim to be—although Jonas’ argumentative justification is in fact a bit weak. However, a systematic critique of the objections of the critics from an analytic perspective shows that he developed a political and practical “philosophy of nature” in which anthropology, ethics, and politics are conceptualized as a converging domain as one of the core constituents of environmentals ethics for this century. (shrink)
Während in den achtziger Jahren Hans Jonas' Spätwerk Prinzip Verantwortung. Versuch einer Ethik für die technologische Zivilisation in aller Munde war, wird Jonas heute kaum noch zur Kenntnis genommen. Waren seine Analysen und Argumente tatsächlich so unhaltbar, wie seine Kritiker behaupten? Oder hat Jonas mehr auf den Weg gebracht, als seine Kritiker es wahrhaben wollen? Der Text rekonstruiert die Einwände der Kritiker und nimmt eine Kritik der Kritik vor. So zeigt sich eine ungeahnte Aktualität von Jonas' ethischem Denken – auch (...) für das 21. Jahrhundert. (shrink)
Die Autorinnen und Autoren dieses Bandes analysieren in kritischer Weise die Breite und Tiefe des Diskurses zu Neuro-Enhancement, der sich aber nicht nur durch ethische Fragen auszeichnet. Sie zeigen, dass es darüber hinaus grundlegende philosophische, anthropologische und gesellschaftstheoretische Aspekte sind, die im Steigerungsbedürfnis spätmoderner Leistungsgesellschaften zu Tage treten. So scheint eine neue Wunschwelt vor der Tür zu stehen: Doping fürs Gehirn! Der rasante Fortschritt der Neurowissenschaften hat das menschliche Gehirn erreicht. Die Möglichkeiten der Leistungssteigerung könnten bald auch das „Innerste“ des (...) Menschen essentiell betreffen: sein Denken und Fühlen, Entscheiden und Handeln. Die Herausgeber Prof. Dr. Nicola Erny ist Professorin für Philosophie an der Hochschule Darmstadt. Dr. Matthias Herrgen lehrte am Philosophischen Seminar der Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität in Münster. Prof. Dr. Jan Cornelius Schmidt unterrichtet Philosophie, Ethik und Technikfolgenabschätzung an der Hochschule Darmstadt. (shrink)
Dieses Buch ist eine Open Access Publikation.Der lange gehegte Traum von künstlicher Intelligenz wird in unserer Alltagswelt zunehmend Realität. Damit verbinden sich hohe gesellschaftliche Erwartungen, aber auch Sorgen hinsichtlich einer schleichenden Entmündigung des Menschen. Am Beispiel des Forschungssektors lotet dieser Band die Optionen, Entwicklungschancen und Risiken von KI-Techniken für die Zukunft des wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnisprozesses und der darauf beruhenden technischen Entwicklungen aus. Zu diesem Zweck wird zunächst der Stand der KI-Technik und ihrer Anwendungen dargestellt. Es folgen wissenschaftsphilosophische Untersuchungen zur Frage der (...) Ersetzbarkeit des forschenden Menschen durch KI und zu erwartenden Veränderungen in der wissenschaftlichen Forschung. Weitere Abschnitte widmen sich den Folgen für die Arbeitswelt von Forschern/Forscherinnen sowie den durch KI erzeugten neuen Herausforderungen für die rechtliche Regulierung im Spannungsfeld von Wissenschaftsfreiheit und Datenschutz. Der Band schließt mit Empfehlungen für die verantwortlichen Akteure in Wissenschaft, Forschungspolitik und Gesellschaft aus interdisziplinärer Perspektive. (shrink)
Interdisciplinary collaboration figures centrally in frontier research in many fields. Participants in inter-disciplinary projects face problems they would not encounter within their own disciplines. Among those are problems of mutual understanding, of finding a language to communicate both within projects and with the scientific community and society at large, and of needing to master concepts and methods of different disciplines. We think that a concentrated research and development effort is necessary to analyze, on the one hand, cognitive conditions of successful (...) understanding, communication, and interaction and, on the other, to develop specific tools and methods that support and facilitate inter-disciplinarity both in practice and in educational projects that prepare future generations of professionals within and outside of academia. Those tools need to be developed and their cognitive efficiency measured. (shrink)
Between Calculability and Non-Calculability. Issues of Calculability and Predictability in the Physics of Complex Systems. The ability to predict has been a very important qualifier of what constitutes scientific knowledge, ever since the successes of Babylonian and Greek astronomy. More recent is the general appreciation of the fact that in the presence of deterministic chaos, predictability is severely limited (the so-called ‘butterfly effect’): Nearby trajectories diverge during time evolution; small errors typically grow exponentially with time. The system obeys deterministic laws (...) and still is unpredictable, seemingly a paradox for the traditional viewpoint of Laplacian determinisms. With the concept of deterministic chaos the epistemological issue about an adequate understanding of predictability is no longer just a mere philosophical topic. Physicists on the one hand recognize the limits of (long term) predictability, computability and even of scientific knowledge, on the other hand they work on concepts for extending the horizon of predictability. It is shown in this paper that physics of complex systems is useful to clarify the jungle of different meanings of the terms ‘predictability’ and ‘computability’ — also with philosophical implications for understanding science and nature. Today, from the physical point of view, the relevance of the concepts of predictability seems to be underestimated by philosophers as a mere methodological topic. In the paper I analyse the importance of predictability and computability in physics of complex systems. I show a way how to cope with problems of unpredictability and noncomputability. Nine different concepts of predictability and computability (i.e. open solution, sensitivity/chaos, redundancy/chance) are presented, compared and evaluated. (shrink)
Kann man Jonas als Technikphilosophen lesen? Obgleich Jonas’ Praktische Philosophie, insbesondere sein Spätwerk Das Prinzip Verantwortung und die sich anschließenden Schriften auf der Diagnose eines ›technologischen Zeitalters‹ und eines durch die Technikentwicklung induzierten Epochenbruchs der Menschheitsentwicklung basiert, bleibt sein Technikverständnis doch merkwürdig implizit. Eine systematisch entwickelte Technikphilosophie hat Jonas nicht vorgelegt.