Personalism, Evolution, and Technoscience Culture

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Lucian Delescu (Berkeley): To describe someone as a person is to distinguish that entity from a non-person. We also recognize ourselves as beings capable of subjective experience.

But some modern philosophers identify with Darwin without understanding that Darwin believed in rational consciousness.

Victoria Hoog (Lund): Scientific Persona and Ethos.

1. Introduction: the European Spallation Source. Partnership between 17 countries. 1.5 B euros. to be operating by 2019. ESS dedicated to created artifacts (materials, products). Science (especially physics) is now highly specialized, requiring large teams who don’t all understand every aspect of the project. Chemistry differs, allowing recognition

2. Technoscience defined: use of science to produce artifacts rather than representations of reality. This attracts hubris or optimism. But the size, novelty, and complexity of projects such as ESS require “normative uncertainty.”

3. History of the scientific persona: in philosophy, scientific history is dominated by individuals (platoto Einstein), whereas in the social sciences, structures matter. In 20th c, Robert Merton re described sci virtues as communalism, universalism, disinterestedness, and organized skepticism.
In twentieth c. science/tech studies, groups are seen as the basic ontological unit. Price argues that the social nature of science cancels out personality as a driving force.

Today, ethics, individual character, actor-theory network, play larger roles in explaining science change.

4. Conclusion: the need to augment the view that artifacts are devoid of value. ESS recognizes this, but only vaguely. “Technologies are inherently moral mediating human behaviour.” Ethics should be embedded in technology.

Anthony Cashio: Technology mediates the way in which we experience reality.

Comments: Lucian recognizes a distinction between philosophers who are “Darwinist and those who merely take the most current version of evolutionary psychology. Victoria’s central point is more perplexing to me. Does value really inhere in objects or merely in their use?

One interesting question arose: has any technological research ever been halted because of ethical concerns?

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