ABSTRACT

THE PURPOSE OF THIS chapter is to highlight the importance of cultivating a critical capacity for reflection about underlying philosophical, moral, and cultural presuppositions of arguments put forward with respect to resource scarcity and technological innovation. According to a well-known characterization of science and technological innovation, progress in knowledge (primarily or essentially, depending on one's persuasion) offers humanity the benefits of new discoveries and applications. These benefits are the normal or natural profit from investment in new knowledge. The destructive sides of technology are not intrinsic. They are effects of either inexperience and inadequate mastery (accidents, pollution, etc.) or human perversity. In the latter case, the knowledge may be "abused," that is, put to wanton, perverted, or destructive uses. Science and technology are marvelous, but society may be delinquent; this potential delinquency is the source of perils, not science and technology themselves.