vici

Job openings: three PhD positions in philosophy

The Philosophy Department of the University of Twente is looking for three PhD candidates to work in the project “Theorizing Technological Mediation: Towards an empirical-philosophical theory of technology”. This five-year project, which includes six researchers, will study the relations between human beings and technology, focusing on its epistemological, ethical, and metaphysical dimensions. Its aim is to develop a theory of technological mediation: how do technologies help to shape human understandings of the world, normative frameworks and actions, and metaphysical frameworks? Project leader is Peter-Paul Verbeek. More information on the project can be found at: http://www.utwente.nl/gw/wijsb/organization/verbeek/vici

The PhD projects are:

(1) The mediated brain: Understanding the technological mediation of knowledge

(2) Mediated Morality: Google Glass, Gender Selection, and the complex interactions between ethics and technology

(3) Technology and religion: Neuroscience, reproduction technology and transcendence

To apply, please use http://www.utwente.nl/vacatures/en/

Theorizing Technological Mediation:
toward an empirical-philosophical theory of technology

VICI project 2014 - 2019

Project leader: Peter-Paul Verbeek, University of Twente

Summary of research proposal

Despite its explosive growth over the past decades, the philosophy of technology is in great need of an empirical-philosophical theory of technology. The objective of this project is to develop such a theory: a theory of technological mediation. Building such a theory is a radical new step in the development of the ‘postphenomenological’ approach in philosophy of technology, which, until recently, has addressed the phenomenon of technological mediation in various isolated ways. The project will systematrically investigate the mediating role of technology in three dimensions of the relations between humans and world: epistemic, ethical, and metaphysical. This will result in a framework to conceptualize and investigate how technologies help to shape human understandings of the world, normative frameworks and actions, and metaphysical frameworks.

These three dimensions will be studied in a combination of empirical investigation and philosophical analysis. Methodologically, the project will integrate elements of Conversation Analysis in the postphenomenological approach in Philosophy of Technology. Postphenomenology has brought a focus on the mediating powers of technologies, but now it is time to bring back the human being in the analysis, albeit in a novel way. How to understand the dynamics between technological mediations and the human appropriation of these mediations?

The empirical work focuses on imaging technologies and reproductive technologies, which involve crucial epistemological, ethical, and metaphysical elements. How do imaging technologies reveal the fetus and the brain, and how does this inform our understanding of ourselves and our offspring? How do gender selection technologies reorganize moral and political frameworks and actions? How does the Google Glass project reorganize the character of public space and our understanding of the world and each other? And how do brain imaging technologies and reproductive technologies help to shape experiences of transcendence, reorganizing the boundaries between the given and the made, fate and responsibility?

Research proposal

1. Introduction

Theorizing technology

Over the past decades, the philosophy of technology has developed into a new subfield of philosophy, with its own domain of inquiry, journals, conference series, educational programs, and forms of societal relevance. But, remarkably, the various approaches that have developed in the field have hardly matured into systematic theories. A typical introduction to philosophy of technology (Dusek 2006, Kaplan 2009), indeed, does not give an overview of the most prominent theories, but rather of the main issues in the field, like technological determinism, technological rationality, and the ethics of technology. Even though there are some good exceptions in subfields of philosophy of technology, like Andrew Feenberg’s ‘critical theory of technology’ (2001) and the ‘dual nature theory of technological artifacts’ developed by Peter Kroes and Pieter Vermaas (Kroes and Vermaas 2002), the time has come to develop a broad theory of technology.

At the same time, the empirical field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) has developed from an ‘empirical detour’ to answer philosophical questions regarding science and technology into an established field for the empirical investigation of scientific and technological practices. But in this development its originary philosophical ambition has started to move to the background. STS could benefit from a reconnection with philosophical theory, in order to develop new ways to understand the social roles of science and technology. Besides deconstructing the networks of relations that constitute scientific facts and technological artifacts, new empirical approaches are needed to the ways in which technologies help to shape knowledge, morality, et cetera.

Postphenomenology

The ‘post-phenomenological’ approach in philosophy of technology, which is currently gaining influence in the field, has the potential to be developed into such a theory: a theory of “technological mediation”. Building upon Don Ihde’s phenomenological analysis of human-technology relations (Ihde 1990), an expanding group of scholars has started to study various aspects of the social and cultural roles of technology, ranging from the epistemic role of the Mars explorer vehicle to the role of technologies in education and from the impact of hands-free calling on driving behavior to the role of sonography in moral decisions about abortion. The approach is called ‘post-phenomenological’ to express its ambivalent relation to the phenomenological tradition; on the one hand, it is heavily inspired by the phenomenological focus on experience and concreteness, but on the other hand it distances itself from its romanticism regarding technology and takes its starting point in empirical analyses of actual technologies.

All of these postphenomenological studies (Ihde 1993; Selinger 2006; Rosenberger 2008; Verbeek 2008; Rosenberger 2012) have at least two things in common. First of all, they study technology in terms of the relations between human beings and technological artifacts, focusing on the various ways in which technologies help to shape relations between human beings and the world. They do not approach technologies as merely functional and instrumental objects, but as mediators of human experiences and practices. And second, they combine philosophical analysis with empirical investigation. Rather than ‘applying’ philosophical theories to technologies, the post-phenomenological approach takes actual technologies and technological developments as a starting point for philosophical analysis. Its philosophy of technology is in a sense a philosophy ‘from’ technology.

In my own work (Verbeek 2005, Verbeek 2011a, Verbeek 2011b), I have further developed the postphenomenological approach in the directions of agency, ethics and philosophical anthropology, by exploring how technologies help to shape moral actions and decisions, and how ‘human enhancement technologies’ like brain implants and tissue engineering urges us to reconceptualize the boundaries between the human and the technological and to rethink the concepts we have to understand the human being. This has resulted in first elements of a theory of technological mediation, conceptualizing various ways in which the boundaries between the human and the technological are fading and how the concept of mediation can help to analyze human-technology relations.

2. Objective: toward a theory of technological mediation

Expanding the postphenomenological approach

By now, though, it is time to make a substantial new step. The various papers, articles and books that have been written under the label of 'postphenomenology' have not yet added up to a substantive theory of technology. They have either focused on empirical-philosophical studies of the mediating role of actual technologies, or on theoretical analyses of various aspects of mediation, like the ‘multistability’ of artifacts or the ethical implications of mediation (Verbeek 2011). The phenomenon of technological mediation now deserves to be studied in a more comprehensive and systematic way, covering the full depth of the various dimensions of the relations between human beings and reality.

The objective of this project, therefore, is to formulate a systematic and comprehensive theory of technological mediation. In order to arrive at such a theory, though, one crucial step needs to be made. In all attention for the mediating roles of technologies, the processes of appropriating these mediations by human beings have remained largely unstudied. In order to develop a full understanding of processes of mediation, therefore, we should not only study ‘what things do’ (cf. Verbeek 2005) but also how humans give meaning to these mediations – both empirically and conceptually. How do scientists actively engage with perceptual technological mediations when interpreting reality? How do moral decisions take shape in the active interplay between material mediations and human appropriations?

Expanding approaches in Science and Technology Studies

In the adjacent field of Science and Technology Studies, processes of technological mediation do play a role as well, but they have not been studied at sufficient depth yet. Several scholars in the field have been working on ‘material agency’, but detailed studies of the phenomenon of technological mediation are typically missing in their analyses. Karen Barad’s highly important work on ‘intra-action’, for instance, is closely related to the postphenomenological idea of the ‘mutual constitution’ of ‘subject’ and ‘object’, but does not explicitly address the mediated character of this intra-action (Barad 2003). In postphenomenological theory, the media of this mutual constitution, and the dynamics of their interactions with human agency and the phenomena being studied, have a central place. Similarly, Andrew Pickering’s concepts of the ‘mangle of practice’ and the ‘dance of agency’ focus on the interplay between human and material agency, but only indirectly address processes of mediation. His well-known analysis of the interplay between the actions of scientists and the activities in Glazer’s bubble chambers, for instance, could be augmented with a detailed analysis of the ways in which visual presentations of bubble tracks help to constitute the phenomena being studied and the ways in which scientists study them (Pickering 1995).

And while the work of Ian Hacking, to give a third example, explicitly thematizes the roles of scientific instruments like microscopes in the production of scientific knowledge, it mainly focuses on the resulting reality-status of the entities investigated in this way (Hacking 1983). To this highly important work a theory of mediation can add an in-depth study of the technological mediations and appropriation processes involved in knowledge production with the help of scientific instruments. Fourth and last, Bruno Latour’s work on technical mediation (Latour 1994) offers a set of concepts to study how programs of action get translated when human beings form associations with technical artifacts. But, as will be elaborated below, his symmetrical approach to humans and nonhumans makes it impossible to investigate the hermeneutic dimension of processes of mediation: the human appropriation of technological mediations around which specific ‘objectivities’ and ‘subjectivities’ crystallize.

In Science and Technology Studies, then, the phenomenon of technological mediation has remained an underdeveloped theme, while the postphenomenological framework to investigate technological mediations is in need of methodology and expansion. The central research question of this project, therefore, is:

How to develop a theory of mediation that makes possible a empirical-philosophical conceptualization of the role of technology in the relations between human beings and reality?

3. Methodology

Three dimensions

In order to answer the central research question, the project will focus on three dimensions of the relations between human beings and reality: the dimensions of knowledge, ethics, and metaphysics. These dimensions loosely correspond to the three questions that Immanuel Kant saw as the most central ones in philosophy: (1) what can I know?; (2) what ought I to do?; and (3) what may I hope? The third question will be taken quite freely and broadly as a question about transcendence and metaphysics: how to understand human experiences of what is beyond the grasp of human making and understanding, and what are the most fundamental concepts with which to understand the world? Connecting these three questions to the phenomenon of technological mediation will not only make it possible to expand our understanding of the social and cultural roles of technology, but also to establish closer connections between the philosophy of technology and other subfields of philosophy. It will result in an analysis of the constitutive role of technologies in the epistemological, ethical, and metaphysical dimensions of human experiences and practices. These three lines of investigation will be integrated in an overarching project, focusing on the development of a theory of mediation and a method for studying processes of mediation.

Empirical philosophy

The method followed in the project will be ‘empirical-philosophical’, connecting to and expanding the ‘empirical turn’ that has played an important role in the philosophy of technology over the past 15 years (cf. Achterhuis 2001). Empirical-philosophical work does not base itself on the philosophical tradition and conceptual analysis only, but takes the study of actual practices and situations as a starting point for philosophical analysis (cf Mol 2002). Rather than applying pre-given philosophical theories to technology, it lets technologies challenges existing frameworks, using empirical work as a basis for developing new concepts and frameworks.

In order to develop a theory of technological mediation, therefore, the project will investigate how and to what extent actual technological mediations of knowledge, morality, and experiences of transcendence urge us to develop new conceptual frameworks. In order to do so, it will expand the work that has been done in postphenomenological research over the past years and augment it with empirical studies.

One more turn after the material turn

These studies will be primarily guided by the method of Conversation Analysis (CA). The integration of CA in mediation theory is a new and necessary addition to current ‘post-phenomenological’ work. Until recently, and for good reasons, the postphenomenological approach has invested most of its energy in analyzing technologies and their mediating roles, rather than human appropriations of these mediations. Its central idea, after all, is that we need a ‘material turn’ in philosophy of technology (Verbeek 2005; Ihde 1993): we need to study things, rather than humans. By now, however, mediation theory needs one more turn after the material turn. Having turned from humans to technologies we now have to move toward to technologically mediated human beings. In order to understand how technologies mediate knowledge, morality and metaphysics, we should not only study technologies, but also the ways in which human beings give meaning to them, and to the impact they have on their existence.

The empirical method of Conversation Analysis offers a highly interesting possibility to investigate this process of ‘interpretive appropriation’, by studying the verbal and non-verbal interactions between human beings in relation to technologies. Conversation analysis studies how, in the interactions between human beings and their environment, a meaningful ‘world’ is constructed (Edwards & Potter 1992; Edwards 1997; Hutchby 2001; Lamerichs & Te Molder 2011). Just like Latour’s actor-network theory and Ihde’s postphenomenology, conversation analysis has its basis in phenomenology and ethnomethodology. But where ANT and postphenomenology have tended to downplay the specific role of the subject in human-technology relations, or even refuse to think in terms of subjects and objects, CA makes it possible to bring the mediated subject to the center again – albeit in an a-modernist and non-humanist way, because of its integration in a postphenomenological framework. By studying how human beings make technologies epistemologically, ethically, and metaphysically relevant in conversations and interactions, it becomes possible to understand more of the dynamics of human-technology relations, and the interplay between technological mediations and human appropriations.

The method of Conversation Analysis, therefore, adds a dimension to the postphenomenological approach that was missing in order to arrive at a theory of technological mediation. Moreover, CA can also be seen as the missing link between the empirical approach of Science and Technology Studies and the philosophical approach of Philosophy of Technology: it provides a solid empirical basis for further philosophical analysis of the ways in which technologies help to shape the various dimensions of the relations between humans and reality.

4. Outline of the project

Subproject 1: Epistemology

Knowledge technologies

The first subproject focuses on the epistemological dimensions of technological mediation: how do technologies help to shape our ways of knowing and understanding the world? In Science and Technology studies, processes of knowledge production have always been a central theme, and various empirical approaches have been developed to understand the dynamics of these processes, of which Actor-Network Theory (ANT) has become the most influential. The role of technological mediations in these processes has remained underdeveloped, though.

To be sure: the concept of mediation does play an explicit role in ANT, to indicate that entities are no neutral ‘intermediaries’ but active ‘mediators’ that change situations, relations, and processes. But, unlike postphenomenology, ANT does not explicitly address the hermeneutic dimension of mediations: the ways in which technologies actively help to shape human interpretations of the world. ANT studies processes of mediation ‘from the outside’: as interactions between agents that can be empirically observed and analyzed. Its explicitly symmetrical approach to human and nonhuman agents makes it impossible for ANT to address processes of mediation ‘from the inside’: from the perspective of the experiences and interpretations of human beings who have a technologically mediated relation to the phenomena they are studying. The postphenomenological approach does not accept this radical symmetry – even though it does not accept the modernist subject/object split either.

In postphenomenological theory, the core epistemological idea is that technologies help to shape the reality of the phenomena that are being studied. Technological mediation is no phenomenon that takes place ‘between’ a pre-given world of objects and pre-given human subjects. Rather, human beings and their world are constituted in the ‘act’ of mediation. The epistemological consequences of this relational metaphysics have been labeled as “instrumental realism” (Ihde 1991) and “material hermeneutics” (Ihde 1998). Scientific instruments mediate the reality of the world of scientists; our hermeneutic understanding of the world takes shape in interaction with the material objects that mediate our relation to the world. The content of scientific knowledge and human understandings of the world cannot be separated from the mediating technologies that help to shape this knowledge and understanding.

Other authors have thematized the role of instruments in the development of scientific knowledge as well. The work of Peter Galison (Galison 1997) and Davis Baird (Baird 2004) also investigates how instrumentation contributes to scientific knowledge – ranging from measuring devices to imaging technologies. Still, they do not explicitly analyze the dynamics of the mutual constitution of ‘subject’ and ‘object’ in the mediated relations between scientists and phenomena. For this reason, Don Ihde’s ‘material hermeneutics’ forms an important addition to the – equally important – innovation that Actor-Network Theory (ANT) brought to epistemology (Latour 1987), and to existing analyses of the roles of instruments in scientific practices. While ANT opened the possibility to study the constitution of realities in empirical ways – remotely based on the phenomenological-anthropological approach of ethnomethodology – postphenomenology added a hermeneutical perspective to empirical philosophy. Rather than studying the networks of relations between actants from a quasi-external standpoint, postphenomenology makes it possible to address processes of mediation ‘from within’: in terms of perceptions and interpretations that can help to shape intentions and actions.

Yet, in order to develop a theory of epistemological or hermeneutic mediation, we need to make one step further. After having opened an empirical way to study the mediated character of the human understanding of the world, and after having articulated the hermeneutic structure of this mediated relation, it is now time to study empirically the content of this hermeneutic structure. How do technologies help to shape the reality that scientists are studying, and that human beings are experiencing in their daily lives? And how do human beings make sense of this technologically mediated reality?

Investigating epistemic mediation

Conversation Analysis provides the missing link here. CA makes it possible to study empirically how the mediating roles of technologies help to shape specific understandings of reality, and how specific ‘subjects’ and ‘objects’ of knowledge are constituted in their technologically mediated relation. While postphenomenological research until now has focused on understanding the mediating roles of technologies, CA makes it possible to investigate how human beings who use scientific instruments give meaning to the mediating roles of technologies and to the mediated realities they help to constitute. By studying the conversations and practices around mediating technologies, we can gain more insight in the ways in which users take up with technological mediations; how they develop creative ways of appropriating these mediations and integrate them in existing practices and interpretive frameworks; how they see themselves in relation to the mediating technologies and to the phenomena they are perceiving or studying. CA then functions as an ‘empirical hermeneutics’: an instrument to study processes of mediation ‘from within’.

The subproject will be carried out by a PhD candidate and a postdoc, under supervision of the applicant. The PhD candidate will put most emphasis on analyzing the epistemical mediating roles of technologies; the postdoc, who will need to have a background in conversation analysis, on the human appropriation of these roles. Two case studies will be the backbone of this project: one (PhDcandidate1) will focus on brain imaging technologies; the other will focus on antenatal diagnostic technologies (Postdoc1). The two cases augment each other in the sense that brain imaging (of which fMRI is currently in the leading role) is highly specialist, while antenatal diagnostic technologies also play an important role in more mundane practices surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. Both technologies have an important societal relevance, and play profound roles in the ways in which we have come to understand our offspring and ourselves. Brain imaging technologies help to shape the ways in which we understand the functioning of our brains, resulting in insights in human functioning such as the effectiveness of psychotherapy and education, our development from children to adults, et cetera. Antenatal diagnostic technologies help to shape our understanding of the fetus, of the difference between normalities and abnormalities, they gender unborn babies and make it possible to select and abort fetuses.

PhD project 1: The mediated brain

In this project, it will be studied how neuroscientists arrive at knowledge about the brain on the basis of brain imaging technologies, and how this knowledge of the brain is subsequently translated to knowledge about human functioning, such as the effectiveness of educational programs or systems, the impact of psychotherapy and psychopharmaca, or the development of adolescents (to be decided with the PhD candidate). The project will make both a conceptual (postphenomenological) analysis and conduct an empirical study of the relations between neuroscientists and the brain as mediated by imaging technologies. Supervised by the applicant and Postdoc1 (who has a background in Conversation Analysis), the PhD candidate will use the method of conversation analysis to study the mediating roles of technology in the constitution of the brain, the creative appropriation of these mediations by neuroscientists, and the ways they translate brain images into claims about human functioning. Goal of the project is to develop a closer understanding of the epistemic role of brain imaging technologies, and to contribute to a more generic framework (in cooperation with Postdoc1) to understand epistemic mediation.

Year 1: Getting acquainted with postphenomenology, CA, analyses of the epistemic roles of scientific instruments, and brain imaging technologies; setting up contacts with Medical Imaging groups, preferably at the Medisch Spectrum Twente hospital and at the University of Twente, and with neuropsychologists (e.g. prof. Eveline Crone, Leiden University, with whom good working relations exist). Development of research method, combining postphenomenological theory with conversation analysis, in close cooperation with Postdoc 1 and the applicant. Writing a conceptual article about the epistemic role of imaging technologies.

Year 2: Case study 1: to be decided in cooperation with the PhD candidate, focusing on the use of brain imaging technologies to understand a specific aspect of the human mind or human functioning. Writing article on this case study.

Year 3: Case study 2: to be decided in cooperation with the PhD candidate, focusing on another use of brain imaging technologies to understand a specific aspect of the human mind or human functioning. Writing article on this case study and the technological mediation of neuroscientific understanding.

Year 4: elaboration of theoretical framework for understanding and analyzing epistemic mediation, with Postdoc 1 and PI. Writing Dissertation.

Postdoc project 1: The mediated fetus
The main question of postdoc project 1 is: how to integrate Conversation Analysis in the postphenomenological approach, in order to arrive at a theory of ‘epistemic mediation’? While the emphasis of PhD Project 1 is on the technological mediation of knowledge, the emphasis in this project is on the human appropriation of these mediations and on the development of a theoretical framework for understanding epistemic mediation. Beside co-supervising the work in PhD project 1, the project will focus on antenatal diagnostic technologies (fetal imaging technologies, amniocentesis, the recently developed blood test for Down’s syndrome, pre-implantation genetic diagnostics), and the ways in which these technologies help to constitute the reality of the fetus and the relations between fetus, expecting parents, and health care professionals. This will touch upon both epistemic and normative questions (what is the fetus, what is its condition, and how to deal with this knowledge?), and therefore part of the work of postdoc 1 will also be relevant for the ethical subproject of this proposal. The goal of the project is to arrive at a theory of epistemic mediation, in cooperation with PhD project 1 and the work of the applicant: a conceptualization and empirical study of the dynamics between technological mediation and human appropriation in processes of interpretation and knowledge development. The candidate should have a background in Conversation Analysis.

Year 1: Getting acquainted with postphenomenology, existing analyses of the epistemic roles of scientific instruments, and antenatal diagnostic technologies. Setting up contacts with relevant medical groups, preferably at the Medisch Spectrum Twente hospital and at the University of Twente, and with obstetricians, midwives, ultrasound companies. Writing conceptual article about the epistemic role of antenatal diagnostic technologies. Development of research method, combining postphenomenological theory with CA, in close cooperation with PhD1 and the applicant. Writing article about integrating postphenomenology and conversation analysis (with applicant). Co-supervising PhD1 and advising PhD2 and PhD3.

Year 2: Case study 1: Fetal imaging technologies. Writing 2 articles on epistemic mediation in fetal imaging, one conceptual (bringing Conversation Analysis into existing approaches to fetal imaging), the other empirical, presenting and discussing the results of investigating how expecting parents and healthcare professionals appropriate technologically mediated images of the fetus.

Year 3: Case study 2: Non-visual antenatal diagnostic technologies (blood tests; pre-implantation genetic diagnostics). Writing article on the technological mediation of antenatal diagnostics, and the appropriation of these mediations. Writing article on the moral dimension of these technologies, in terms of the technological mediation of moral experience (see subproject 2).

Subproject 2: Ethics

Moral mediation

In my own recent work, I have put much effort in thinking through the ethical dimensions of the phenomenon of technological mediation. In my recent book Moralizing Technology I have developed the concept of ‘moral mediation’ to analyze how technologies mediate moral actions by helping to shape specific practices and experiences. The paradigmatic example in this study was obstetric ultrasound and its role in moral decisions regarding abortion. Ultrasound constitutes the reality of the fetus in a radically new way, which brings new ethical questions and responsibilities, and reorganizes ethical practices and decisions. From such a postphenomenological approach, moral agency cannot be located in human beings only, but also includes technological artifacts.

This exploration of the phenomenon of moral mediation was only a first step, though. While the focus in Moralizing Technology was primarily on the question to what extent technologies can be described in terms of moral agency, we now need to proceed to build a theory of technologically mediated morality. In all attention for the empirical study of technology, the empirical dimensions of the ways in which human beings take up with technology has remained underdeveloped. The recent revival of ‘good life ethics’ in the philosophy of technology (Borgmann 1984; Brey 1998; Swierstra 2000) and the increasing attention for ‘subjectivation and technology’ (Rose 2006, Brenninkmeijer 2010, Dorrestijn 2012) requires a closer empirical investigation of the normative relations humans have with technologies. How can the complex interplay between the technological disclosure of reality, the technological mediation of practices, and human moral actions and decisions be understood? And what does this imply for the ethical assessment of technologies, and for the ethics of technology design?

The objectives of this subproject, therefore, are threefold:

(1)

to understand the dynamics of technologically mediated morality, by developing a framework to conceptualize how technologies mediate moral actions and decisions, and how human beings actively develop a relation to these mediations;

(2)

to develop a practical-ethical framework for assessing technologies, by identifying and analyzing the ethical questions and issues regarding technologies; and

(3)

to develop a tool for designing effective and morally justifiable mediations into technologies.

In order to realize these objectives, two projects will be conducted, on understanding moral mediations its implications for assessing technologies, and another one on designing them.

1. Moral Mediation and Ethical Technology Assessment

Within the postphenomenological approach, some work has been done already on the phenomenon of moral mediation. This work either focuses on the technological mediation of morality (Verbeek 2011) or on the processes of subjectivation in which human beings ‘design their lives’ in interaction with technological mediations (Dorrestijn 2012). In both approaches, however, two crucial aspects of the ethical dimension of technological mediation remain underdeveloped. First, the dynamic interactions between technological mediation and human appropriation requires more (empirical) investigation. How do technologies help to shape moral actions and perceptions, and how do human beings take up with these moral mediations? Second, the consequences of the phenomenon of moral mediation for the ethical assessment of technologies needs to be thought through. This subproject will fill these gap, by using Conversation Analysis to investigate how technology users perceive and critically appropriate these moral mediations, and how the ‘everyday morality’ regarding new technologies takes shape.

The project will focus on two controversial technologies: a chip for gender selection and the Google Glass project. The gender selection chip is developed in the lab-on-a-chip group of the University of Twente, headed by prof. Albert van den Berg, with whom there are good working relations; there is expressed interest in participating in a project that investigates the ethical dimensions of this technology. The technology is based on the fact that X-chromosomes are a bit longer and therefore heavier than Y-chromosomes; on the nanoscale this difference in weight is significant and useful for separating the two types of sperm cells. The technology has the potential to become available at a large scale and a low price; therefore, the social effect is likely to be quite substantial if the technology would indeed be introduced. (At present, to be sure, gender selection is forbidden in many countries.) Google Glass is an augmented reality technology that provides users with a ‘second layer’ of information when they wear it: they can get information on objects and buildings they see, and potentially also about human beings, when the technology would be equipped with face recognition technology; they can exchange messages, take pictures and record videos, and surf the internet ‘in the background’ of one’s activities.

Both technologies will play important mediating roles in our normative frameworks, as they are likely to have an impact on our responsibilities and values regarding our offspring, and our ways of engaging in the public sphere. At the same time, they are socially controversial, which makes it all the more relevant to investigate the ‘everyday morality’ regarding these technologies to facilitate normative discussions about them, and to inform practices of technology design, use, and policy-making. Interestingly, Google Glass is already there and will be introduced on a large scale in 2014, while the gender selection chip is still in development, which makes it possible to investigate how normative reflection could be integrated in the development and, possibly, the social introduction of the technology.

In order to investigate this dynamics of moral mediation and appropriation, the project will first study how the gender selection chip and Google glass play a mediating role in people’s moral frameworks. By making the gender of our offspring a matter of choice rather than fate, images of masculinity and femininity, parent-child relations, and possible also social structures, will change. And Google Glass will change our perceptions of and engagement in public space, the value we attach to specific forms of communication, knowledge, social relations, et cetera.

In close relation to this, the project will investigate how this expanded analysis of moral mediation has implications for the assessment of technologies. After all, when our moral frameworks are not independent from the technologies themselves, this has consequences for the ways we can do ethics of technology. The technologically mediated character of human morality makes it impossible to give ethics the role of an external judge, assessing from outside which technologies are acceptable and which are not. The frameworks of assessment take shape in interaction with the technologies they are supposed to assess. There is no ‘outside’ of technology from which we can ethically reflect on technology; ethics can only take place ‘from within’ our technologically mediated situation (Verbeek 2013). Rather than assessing technologies from an external position, therefore, an ethics of technology based on mediation theory should be directed at accompanying the intertwinement of humans and technologies ‘from within’, focusing on the quality of human existence-with-technology (Hottois 1996, Verbeek 2011a).

Also in this context, Conversation Analysis makes possible an interesting expansion of the postphenomenological framework. With the method of CA, it becomes possible to study how human beings make technologies morally relevant in their conversations. Rather than starting from pre-giving normative frameworks that can be applied to technology, it starts from identifying and analyzing normative issues that arise in people’s ‘everyday morality’. Such analyses can be the basis for a practical method to support ethical reflection on (new) technologies. Often, the ‘everyday’ moral considerations, frameworks, and arguments regarding technologies remain implicit and unspoken. By making them explicit and analyzing them in terms of ethical theories and the theory of technological mediation, people’s implicit normative concerns become available for moral discussion and reflection. Rather than assessing technologies in terms of pre-given ethical frameworks, this approach of ‘ethical accompaniment’ generates questions that are articulated ‘from within’, connected to everyday practices of design, implementation, and use. By making people’s practical moral concerns explicit, and analyzing them in terms of ethical theory, they become ‘available’ for reflection and discussion to users, designers and policy-makers.

In order to assess Google Glass and the gender selection chip, the central issue is how human beings make these technologies morally significant in their conversations about and interactions with them. How to understand these everyday moral concerns in terms of ethical theory? And how to facilitate ethical reflection of users, designers, and policy makers regarding these technologies?

PhDproject2: Understanding and Assessing Moral Mediation

The PhD student will first acquaint him- or herself with the two technological fields, with the details of the state-of-the-art in postphenomenological theory, and with Conversation Analysis. After this, two parallel studies will conducted, one for each technology, focusing both on the ways in which these technologies mediate morality, and on the ways in which humans (designers, users and policy makers) make these technologies morally significant.

Guiding question in the project is: how does the interaction between technological mediation and human appropriation and subjectivation take shape? In order to answer this question, a mix of conceptual analysis and empirical investigation is needed. By interviewing and observing developers, users and policy makers the still rather abstract notion of ‘moral mediation’ will be further elaborated into specific characteristics of the dynamics between technological mediations and user practices. The depth of analysis that Conversation Analysis makes possible is a necessary addition to current analyses of moral mediation, that focus more on the structure of mediation processes than on their actual content. The PhD project will be co-supervised by the postdoc in subproject 1, who will be an expert in conversation analysis.

Year 1: Getting acquainted with postphenomenology, conversation analysis, analyses of the moral roles of brain technologies and gender selection technologies; setting up contacts with the Twente Lab-on-a-Chip group (prof. Albert van den Berg) and with research groups in augmented reality. Writing a conceptual article about the morally mediating role of gender selection technologies and Google Glass (with Postdoc 1 and applicant).

Year 2: Case study 1: Gender selection. Development of method, combining postphenomenological theory with conversation analysis, in close cooperation with Postdoc 1 and the applicant. Developing method and organizing workshop to give feedback on stakeholders about their implicit, everyday morality regarding gender selection technologies. Writing article on the moral mediation of gender selection, and the ethical assessment of the gender selection chip.

Year 3: Case study 2: Google Glass. Cooperation with Postdoc 2 and applicant. Organizing workshop to give feedback on stakeholders about their implicit, everyday morality regarding Google Glass. Writing article on the morally mediating roles of augmented reality technologies, and the ethical assessment of Google Glass.

Year 4: elaboration of framework for understanding the dynamics of moral mediation, with applicant. Writing Dissertation

2. Designing Moral Mediation

Beside understanding moral mediation in more detail, and developing a new method to assess such mediations, mediation theory also makes it possible to design moral mediations. Technologies are increasingly used to influence people’s behavior in desirable directions. This phenomenon is often called ‘nudging’ (Thaler and Sunstein 2008) or ‘persuasive technology’ (Fogg 2003): technologies can ‘nudge’ or ‘persuade’ users to behave in specific ways. In my earlier work (Verbeek 2011) I discussed why this ‘mild’ form of influencing people’s behavior can be defended as morally justifiable. But now it is time to investigate how mediation theory, augmented with Conversation Analysis, can be used to design effective and morally defendable mediations. How can mediation theory inform design practices in such ways that they can effectively and desirably contribute to the realization of specific moral values?

By answering this question, mediation theory can make a significant contribution to the growing field of value-sensitive design (Friedman 2002). At the same time, though, mediation theory provides a radically different normative account of the relations between users and behavior-influencing technologies than most other accounts. Rather than defending the autonomy of technology users – like the ‘libertarian paternalism’ of the nudge approach and the ‘transparency’ of the persuasive technology approach do – it takes the mediated character of human existence as a starting point, and focuses on enhancing the quality of the (inevitably) mediated character of human actions and decisions.

The project – to be conducted by a scholar with training in applied ethics – will focus on two technology domains in which nudges explicitly play a role: the design of smart energy meters that give feedback in order to reduce people’s energy consumption, and the design of e-coaches that assist people in changing their behavior, for instance in order to lose weight, to exercise more, or to deal with COPD. In both domains, the behavior-influencing effects of the technologies are explicitly intended and widely considered desirable, but they might have unforeseen mediating effects and deserve closer empirical ethical analysis. Postphenomenological theory and CA make it possible to investigate more carefully the mediating effects of these technologies, and their normative dimensions.

Postdoc project 2: Designing Moral Mediation

Year 1: Writing article on the relations between moral mediation on the one hand and existing approaches in behavior-influencing technology (persuasive technology, nudge) on the other, problematizing the ideal of defending the autonomy of the user. Case study 1: Smart Energy Meters. What mediating roles do these meters have, how do users give meaning to them? How do they help to shape people’s awareness of the environmental impact of their behavior? What moral issues emerge, e.g. in terms of democratic values and human autonomy, and how to deal with them in terms of ethical theory and in technology design? Writing article on the impact of smart energy meters on people’s moral ideas and behavior regarding energy use and the moral aspects of the design of smart energy meters.

Year 2: Case study 2: e-Coaching. Empirical study of the interaction between technological mediations by e-coaches and user appropriation. Writing article on the impact of e-coaches on people’s moral ideas and behavior and the moral aspects of the design of e-coaches. Writing concluding article about the potential contribution of mediation theory to value-sensitive design and behavior-influencing technology.

Subproject 3: Metaphysics

The third dimension of mediation to be studied in this project is metaphysics, taken in the broadest sense as studying the most fundamental notions and concepts with which we understand the world. This metaphysical dimension will be addressed from two different angles: not only will the project address how metaphysical frameworks in terms of which human beings approach reality take shape in interaction with technology (mediated metaphysics); it will also develop a metaphysical framework for understanding the phenomenon of technological mediation itself (a ‘metaphysics of mediation’) and compare it to other metaphysical frameworks, e.g. in classical phenomenology and actor-network theory.

Mediated metaphysics

In order to understand how technologies help to shape metaphysical frameworks, the project will focus on the relations between technology and religion, more specifically on the ways in which technologies help to shape human experiences of transcendence – of what is beyond the grasp of human understanding and manipulation. While there has been a lot of discussion about science and religion, the discussion about religion and technology is much smaller (cf. Borgmann 2003; Szerszynski 2004; Nye 1994). And here, mediation theory can make an innovative contribution.

The project will approach transcendence in a phenomenological way. The analysis that German philosopher Karl Jaspers made of the phenomenon of transcendence will be a starting point (Jaspers 1932). Transcendence, for Jaspers, is a ‘mode of being’, rather than something that ‘exists’ itself. Besides being as an ‘entity’ (‘things’ or ‘objects’) or as ‘existence’ (humans or ‘subjects’), there is also the phenomenon of being itself: there mere fact that entities are there, and that their existence cannot be entirely reduced to our interventions and understanding. All entities and human beings have this dimension of transcendence: part of their being escapes interpretive frameworks and technological interventions. Human existence, for instance, has a transcendent dimension, because it happens to us, rather than being the product of our own intervention; we find ourselves in our own existence, just like we find ourselves in the world in which we live.

In order to study the relations between technology and religion, therefore, this subproject will investigate empirically and phenomenologically how technologies help to shape experiences of transcendence. Technological manipulation might seem to be at odds with receptivity for transcendence, but in fact the two have a close relationship. Technology plays a profound role in the ways in which human beings experience transcendence – even to the point that technology can be said to provide an explicit answer to transcendence. Dutch philosopher Jos de Mul, for instance, convincingly analyzed how technology, just like Christianity and Greek mythology, can be seen as a way of dealing with fate, with things that are beyond our control (De Mul 2008).

Mediation theory can offer an additional way to study the relations between technology and religion, by investigating how experiences of transcendence always have a technologically mediated character, and how technological interventions can be seen as mediator in our relation to what is beyond the grasp of human understanding or manipulation. Congenital diseases, for instance, move from the realm of fate to the realm of individual responsibility when it becomes possible to intervene technologically in them.

The key question in this subproject, therefore, is: how do technologies mediate practices and experiences involving transcendence? To what extent does technology exclude transcendence, and to what extent does it leave room for it? How does technology help to shape experiences of transcendence, and the transcendent character of the human being and of life itself?

Again, two cases will be studied, one in the realm of brain technologies and reproductive technologies. Both studies will be closely connected to the case studies in subproject 1 on the epistemological dimension of mediation. In the realm of brain technologies, a study will be done on the role of fMRI imaging and brain activity measurement devices in religious experience. Guiding questions will be: what does it imply for religious experiences if they can be connected to specific forms of brain activity?; and how do ‘brain-reading technologies’ like neurofeedback result in new practices of ‘mediation’. In the realm of antenatal technologies, connection will be seeked with the projects on gender selection and antenatal diagnostic technologies, in order to investigate how these technologies help to shape the ways in which human beings experience life as a ‘gift’ (Sandel 2004) versus as something makeable. IVF and antenatal genetic interventions seem to draw the transcendent origin of the human being entirely within human reach. What does this imply for the transcendence of life itself?

Again, a combination of Conversation Analysis and postphenomenological analyses of mediation will be central in this subproject. Postphenomenologically, the core focus is on the ways in which technologies help to shape experiences of transcendence, while conversation analysis makes it possible to investigate how human beings take up with these mediating roles. How does knowledge about ‘religious brain activity’ help to shape religious experience? How do human beings give meaning to the impact of neurofeedback on their daily lives? How do gender selection technologies and antenatal diagnostics reorganize the boundaries between fate and responsibility, between transcendence and makeability?

PhDproject3:

Year 1: Getting acquainted with postphenomenology, conversation analysis, analyses of technology and religion; setting up contacts with the Twente Lab-on-a-Chip group (prof. Albert van den Berg) and with relevant neuroscientists. Writing article about technology and religion, making room for technological mediation of religion. Developing plan for Years 2-4, choosing cases, establishing contacts, in cooperation with applicant.

Year 2: Case study 1: to be decided, in realm of neuroscience. Development of method, combining postphenomenological theory with conversation analysis, in close cooperation with applicant. Writing article on the technological mediation of transcendence in the field of this technology (with applicant, possibly with PhD1).

Year 3: Case study 2: to be decided, in the realm of reproduction technologies, e.g. IVF or embryo selection. Development of method, combining postphenomenological theory with conversation analysis, in close cooperation technology (with applicant and postdoc1). Writing article on the technological mediation of transcendence in the field of this technology (with applicant).

Year 4: elaboration of framework for a theory of the technological mediation of transcendence, as an approach in the philosophy of religion, with applicant. Writing dissertation.

The metaphysics of mediation

Besides (co-)supervising and coordinating the project, and preparing publications with the other project team members, the applicant will also work on a philosophical study in mediation theory, with the working title ‘Metamodernism: The Metaphysics of Mediation’. The central idea of this study is that mediation theory can offer both an empirical and a metaphysical alternative to existing approaches in the philosophy of technology and Science and Technology Studies. Just like (classical) phenomenology and Actor-Network Theory it aims to overcome the modernist separation of subject and object (Latour 1993). But, just like Actor-Network Theory (ANT), it does not see ‘postmodernism’ as solution, since the postmodern reduction of objectivity to subjectivity in fact merely reinforces the subject-object dichotomy.

Yet, as said, there is a crucial difference between ANT and postphenomenology. While ANT overcomes the subject-object split by giving up on the subject-object distinction and speaking about human and nonhuman ‘actants’, postphenomenology holds on to an asymmetrical approach to humans and nonhumans. But rather than starting from an a priori separation of subject, it sees subjectivities and objectivities as the outcomes of processes of mediation. Without separating subjects and objects, it keeps up a distinction between them – and it is precisely this distinction that makes it possible to address technological mediations and human appropriations along distinct yet closely connected lines, and to approach objectivities and subjectivities as the results of mediations rather than their starting points. The project will investigate to what extent ‘metamodernism’ could be a suitable concept to cover the metaphysical programme of mediation theory.

Mediation theory, therefore, does not only have epistemological and ethical implications, but also entails a new position in the discussion about the limits of modernism. The monograph will investigate the metaphysical origins and implications of mediation theory. It will study how to position and understand the postphenomenological approach in relation to the history of phenomenology, focusing on the work of Husserl (intentionality), Heidegger (hermeneutics, nonmodernism) and Merleau-Ponty (perception and human-object relations); and to ANT in its various manifestations, focusing on Latour’s work on modernism (Latour 1993), actor-network theory (Latour 2005) and metaphysics (Latour 2013). Also, it will investigate the phenomenological origins of Conversation Analysis, and their implications for the integration of CA in the framework of mediation theory. Finally, it will investigate the relations between conceptual and empirical work in philosophy in general, and philosophy of technology in particular, focusing on the question of what ‘empirical philosophy’ could entail. Various authors have come to indicate their work as empirical philosophy; the project will articulate how the empirical-philosophical approach of mediation theory – combining postphenomenological analysis with empirical work on the basis of Conversation Analysis – relates to existing empirial-philosophical approaches.

Subproject 4: Synthesis

This overarching project, which will be the primary responsibility of the applicant, will focus on the organization of two workshops on mediation theory and on writing and editing a synthesizing volume that brings together the various lines of mediation theory into a consistent unity. At the beginning (year 2) and towards the end of the project (year 5), two conferences will be organized to discuss the plans and outcomes of the project with philosophers of technology, scholars in STS, and scholars in Conversation Analysis. The second workshop will be the basis of a synthesizing volume, to be edited by the PI, in which epistemic mediation, moral mediation, and religious mediation are analyzed and explained, and integrated into a theory of technological mediation.

5. Timetable

The PhD candidates will start half a year after the beginning of the project. The postdocs will do their work in years 2, 3, and 4. The applicant spends half of his time on the project.

 

PhD1

Postdoc1

PhD2

Postdoc2

PhD3

applicant

Year 1

0,5

 

0,5

 

0,5

0,5

Year 2

1

1

1

1

1

0,5

Year 3

1

1

1

1

1

0,5

Year 4

1

1

1

 

1

0,5

Year 5

0,5

 

0,5

 

0,5

0,5

(Detailed working plans for each project are in the descriptions of the various projects)

6. Knowledge utilisation

The results of the project are not only of interest for academic philosophers, but they can contribute significantly to the quality of life in a technological culture, and to the quality of processes of policy-making and technology design.

The project will (1) contribute to a better public understanding of the social and cultural impacts of technology; (2) contribute to the quality of practices of technology design; and (3) equip policy-makers with a solid basis to make decisions regarding the use and implementation of technologies, and to deal with ethical questions. Moreover, the applicant is strongly committed to (4) science communication and outreach activities; also in this context, the project will invest explicit effort, by contributing to public discussions about technology and its social and cultural roles, and by continuing to participate in public events to make a wider audience familiar with the process and outcomes of academic work.

7. Literature references

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Baird, D. (2004). Thing Knowledge: A Philosophy of Scientific Instruments, Berkeley: University of California Press

Barad, K. (2003). ‘Posthumanist Performativity: How Matter Comes to Matter’. In: Signs 28:3, pp. 801-831

Borgmann, A. (1984), Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life. Chicago / London: University of Chicago Press

Borgmann, A., 1995, ‘The moral significance of the material culture’, in: Technology and the Politics of Knowledge, A. Feenberg and A. Hannay, eds., Indiana University Press, Bloomington/Minneapolis, pp. 85-93.

Borgmann, A. (2003), Power Failure: Christianity in the Culture of Technology. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos

Brenninkmeijer, J. (2010). ‘Taking Care of one’s Brain: How Manipulating the Brain Changes People’s Selves’. History of the Human Sciences 23:1, 107-126

Brey, P. (1998). ‘New Media and the Quality of Life.’ Techné: Journal of the Society for Philosophy and Technology 3:1, 1-23

Dorrestijn, S. (2012). The Design of our own Lives. Technical Mediation and Subjectivation after Foucault. Enschede: University of Twente (dissertation)

Dusek, V. (2006). Philosophy of Technology: An Introduction. London: Blackwell

Edwards, D. (1997). Discourse and Cognition. London: Sage

Edwards, D. & J. Potter (1992). Discursive Psychology. London: Sage

Feenberg, A. (2001). Critica; Theory of Technology. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Floridi, L. en J.W. Sanders (2004), ‘On the Morality of Artificial Agents’. Minds and Machines 14:3, pp. 349-379

Fogg, B.J. (2003). Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do. Elsevier

Foucault, M. (1990). The care of the self – The history of sexuality: 3. London: Penguin Books {1984}

Friedman, B, P. Kahn and A. Borning (2002). Value Sensitive Design: Theory and Methods. Seattle: University of Washington, CSE Technical Report 02-12-01

Galison, P. (1997). Image and logic: a material culture of microphysics Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Hacking, I. (1983). Representing and Intervening, Introductory Topics in the Philosophy of Natural Science. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Heidegger, M. (1951), ‘Das Ding’. In: Vorträge und Aufsätze. Pfullingen: Neske

Heidegger, M. (1969). Discourse on Thinking (trans. J. M. Anderson and E. H. Freund). New York: Harper & Row.

Heidegger, M. (1976). ‘Brief über den Humanismus’. In: Wegmarken. Gesamtausgabe 9, pp. 313-364. Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann {1947}

Heidegger, M. (1977a). The Age of the World Picture. In: The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. New York: Harper & Row. {translation of Die Zeit des Weltbildes. In: Holzwege. Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1950}

Hottois, G. (1996). Entre symboles et technosciences. Un itinéraire philosophique. Paris: Seyssel

Hutchby, I.. (2001). ‘Technologies, Texts and Affordances’. Sociology 35: 2, 441-456

Ihde, D. (1979). Technics and Praxis. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Reidel.


Ihde, D. (1990). Technology and the Lifeworld. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Ihde, D. (1991). Instrumental Realism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Ihde, D. (1993). Postphenomenology. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.

Ihde, D. (1998). Expanding Hermeneutics. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.

Ihde, D. (2010). Heidegger’s Technologies: Postphenomenological Perspectives. Fordham University Press

Jaspers, K. (1932). Philosophie. Heidelberg: Springer.

Kaplan, D. (2009). Readings in the Philosophy of Technology. Rowman and Littlefield

Kroes, P. A. and A. W. M. Meijers (2002). The dual nature of technical artifacts: Presentation of a new research program. Techné 6 (2), 4-8.

Lamerichs, J. & H. te Molder (2011). Reflecting on your own talk: the Discursive Action Method at work, in C.
Antaki, (Ed.). Applied conversational analysis: Intervention and change in institutional talk (pp. 184-206). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Latour, B. (1987). Science In Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society, Harvard University Press, Cambridge Mass., USA

Latour, B. (1992), ‘Where are the Missing Masses? – The Sociology of a Few Mundane Artifact’”. In: W.E. Bijker and J. Law, Shaping Technology / Building Society. Cambridge: MIT Press


Latour, B. (1993). We have never been modern (trans. C. Porter). Cambridge, Harvard University Press

Latour, B. (1994), On Technical Mediation - Philosophy, Sociology, Genealogy. In: Common Knowledge 3, 29-64.

Latour, B. (1999). On Recalling ANT. In: Actor-Network Theory and After, ed. J. Law and J. Hassard. Oxford: Blackwell

Latour (2005). Reassembling the Social: an introduction into actor-network theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Latour, B. (2013). An inquiry into modes of existence: an anthropology of the moderns. Harvard: Harvard University Press

Mol, A. (2002), The Body Multiple: Ontology in Medical Practice. Durham, N. Ca., and London: Duke University Press.

Mul, J. de (2008). De domesticatie van het noodlot. De wedergeboorte van de tragedie uit de geest van de technologie. Kampen: Klement.

Nye, D. (1994). American Technological Sublime. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

Pickering, A. (1995). The Mangle of Practice: Time, Agency and Science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Potter, J. (1996). Representing Reality: Discourse, Rhetoric and Social Construction. London: Sage

Rose, N. (2006), The Politics of Life Itself: Biomedicine, Power, and Subjectivity in the Twenty-First Century. Princeton University Press

Rosenberger, R. (2008). Perceiving Other Planets: Bodily Experience, Interpretation, and the Mars Orbiter Camera. Human Studies 31 (1).

Rosenberger, R. (2012). Embodied technology and the dangers of using the phone while driving. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 11:1, pp. 79-94.

Sandel, M. (2004). The Case against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering. Harvard: Harvard University Press.

Selinger, E. (ed.), Postphenomenology: A Critical Companion to Ihde. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2006

Swierstra, T. (2000). Kloneren in de polder: Analyse van het maatschappelijk debat over klonen en kloneren in Nederland. Den Haag: Rathenau Instituut

Szerszynski, B. (2004). Nature, Technology, and the Sacred. Blackwell.

Thaler, R. H., & Sunstein, C. R. (2008). Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Verbeek, P.P. (2005). What Things Do: Philosophical Reflections on Technology, Agency, and Design. University Park, PA: Penn State University Press

Verbeek, P.P. (2008). Obstetric Ultrasound and the Technological Mediation of Morality - A Postphenomenological Analysis. In: Human Studies 31:1, 11-26

Verbeek, P.P. (2011a). Moralizing Technology: Understanding and Designing the Morality of Things. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Verbeek, P.P. (2011b). De Grens van de Mens: Over Techniek, Ethiek en de Menselijke Natuur. Rotterdam: Lemniscaat.

Verbeek, P.P. (2013). ‘Resistance is futile: toward a non-modern democratization of technology’. Technè 17:1 pp. 72-92