chapter  2
14 Pages

What is Technology?

Thinking about technology inevitably requires having an understanding of what technology is. Before examining public policy to discover how it conceives technology, I want to develop an account of technology from philosophical thinking. In this chapter I examine the origins of the word technology and how its meaning has changed over the centuries. I then consider philosophical accounts of technology according to what they take technology to be: knowledge, artefacts, the extension of human capabilities, a means for improvement, a substantive force, devices, a social construction and a contingent social structure. I conclude by drawing out from these accounts what I think is useful for thinking about technology in the context of its public assessment, and in Chapter 3 I propose two definitions of technology. My aim is an account that sheds light on the meaning of technology in everyday life and points to what technology should be, an account that can inform the public assessment of technology. In future chapters this account will provide the basis of my critique of the current dominant approach to technology implicit in public policy.