Programme Structure

Course descriptions

Course descriptions

The courses in Year 1 are shown below (please see the profile pages for further information on the courses for each profile in Year 2):

COURSES IN YEAR 1

Philosophy of Technology

In this course, you will receive a historical and thematic introduction to the philosophy of technology. You will study the emergence of the philosophy of technology as an independent field of philosophical inquiry. You will also explore the (social) problems central to this field and get to know the main philosophers, developments and trends in the philosophy of technology. In addition to this historical introduction, you will become acquainted with important themes in the philosophy of technology, such as technological determinism, the nature of technological knowledge, the normative dimensions of technology, and internalism versus externalism. You will delve deeper into a number of these themes during courses in the second term of the first year, including social and political philosophy, epistemology, ethics and technology, and philosophical anthropology. The core theories are phenomenology and post-phenomenology, mediation theory and analytic philosophy. 

Science & Technology Studies

This course will introduce you to the interdisciplinary field of science and technology studies. You will become acquainted with the main theoretical approaches in the field, including the Strong Programme, the Social Construction of Technology, Actor Network Theory and Evolutionary Approaches. Moreover, you will gain hands-on experience of working with STS theories and concepts by conducting empirical research into recent developments in science, technology and society.

Philosophical Theories & Methods

This course will introduce you to various methods and approaches in philosophy. The focus will be on key philosophers and methods of engaging in philosophy that play an important role throughout the PSTS programme. These include analytical methods, hermeneutical methods and applied empirical methods. The course also involves a basic introduction to formal logic. 

TechnoLab

In the TechnoLab project, you will become acquainted with technological developments in Engineering Sciences and Social Sciences at the University of Twente. You will be introduced to the work taking place in our world-class research institutes. You will learn about the scientific research practices behind these technological developments, as well as their social and political contexts. A variety of approaches will enable you to increase your understanding and expertise, such as studying brochures, websites and scientific articles, and conducting interviews with researchers in order to gain insight into the content and methodology underpinning their scientific work. You will use the understanding of technological developments you gained in the first part of this course to explore PSTS topics in the second part of the course. 

Ethics & Technology I

This course will introduce you to the major ethical theories and some key thinkers in moral philosophy, as well as the fundamentals of critical reasoning and ethical argumentation. The main ethical theories are virtue ethics, deontological ethics and utilitarianism, but we will also consider other approaches. The course also includes a short introduction to selected domains of application, such as engineering and bio-medical ethics.

Philosophy & History of Science and Technology

Scientific theories are generally regarded as the backbone of scientific and technological practice. They consist of mathematical formulas, laws of nature and scientific models, among other things. But where do these formulas, laws, and models come from, and how do we know when to apply them? This course approaches these questions from combined historical and philosophical perspectives, focusing on science as it is practiced. The course is based on traditional themes in the philosophy of science. It aims at expanding your understanding of the engineering sciences from a philosophy of science perspective (rather than from a social or ethical perspective). These traditional themes include:

  • What is science?
  • What is a scientific explanation?
  • What is a scientific methodology?
  • What are laws of nature?
  • Are scientific theories true?
  • What is a scientific model?

The course addresses traditional topics such as the logic of scientific reasoning, the induction problem, the demarcation problem and falsificationism, scientific explanation, truth, scientific revolutions, realism and anti-realism. You will get to apply this elementary background in the traditional philosophy of science as you explore the epistemic relationship between science and technology. You will also study aspects of the history of science. This will give you a more in-depth understanding of how scientific knowledge is produced. You will discuss the relationship between science, engineering sciences and technology from this perspective. The differences between various scientific domains will be discussed in both philosophy and history classes, as will the difference between the physical and the social sciences, and the relationship between science and technology. Crucially, perspectives from philosophy and history will provide us with different kinds of contexts and methods. 

Philosophical Anthropology & Technology

Philosophical anthropology involves the critical reflection on questions concerning human nature and the human condition. It addresses questions such as:

  • What is a human being?
  • What is (personal) identity?
  • Which cultural and/or natural features constitute human nature?
  • How does a human being differ from (other) animals?

In this course you will investigate how technology has influenced and shaped human nature and human existence. You will discuss foundational perspectives in the history of philosophical anthropology; classical views of philosophical anthropology and technology; and contemporary perspectives on philosophical anthropology and technology. In the final part of the course, the emphasis will be on constructivism, technical mediation and technical extension.

Society, Politics & Technology

Technology is a major force in social and political reality. This course will introduce you to five main discussions within social and political philosophy: democracy, social justice, freedom, equality and community. You will learn to relate these discussions to the political philosophy of technology, both in its classical and contemporary forms.

Technology & Social Order

A number of notable philosophers, sociologists and historians have theorized on and examined the relationship between technology and technological development on one hand, and society on the other. This course will introduce you to the range of interpretive visions regarding this relationship. You will become familiar with variations on the themes of technological determinism, social shaping, mediation, co-production, ethical engineering and hybridity. You will examine both the philosophical presuppositions and the commitments behind these various interpretive frameworks and consider the consequences of adopting them in order to interpret the past and advise on the future.

Ethics & Technology II

Technology is everywhere in modern society, affecting everything we do. Such a pervasive force calls for moral reflection. Should we be steering technology in a particular direction? What key concepts and theories does moral philosophy offer for moral deliberation on technology? These are questions you will discuss in this course. The course consists of a series of guest lectures. Your lecturers will present and discuss ideas within their own area of expertise, highlighting the many ways in which ethics can be applied to technology from a range of different approaches. The topics vary each quarter, but typically include issues such as sustainable development, robot ethics, intellectual property, bio-medical technology, transhumanism, virtual worlds, risk assessment and digital divides.

PhiloLab

This course is based on an academic workshop that focuses on the philosophy of science, technology and society. It is supervised by staff members from the research groups and institutes that participate in the PSTS Master’s programme. Each supervisor submits a paper representative of the type of research done in his or her institute or research group. You will study the papers and then divide into groups. Each group will consider one of the papers in greater detail, with supervision from a staff member. The academic workshop itself consists of a more formal day, during which the supervisors from the participating institutes present papers for you to discuss with fellow students. The course ends with a 'graduate conference' day, during which you will present and discuss your results. You will then write a short academic essay on a topic related to one of the papers. The course objectives are to introduce you to the research fields of the participating research groups, and to develop your writing and presenting skills. You will also receive training in presentation skills.

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