About the Profiles in the 2nd year programme

Draft from Studyguide PSTS 2013-2014 version 17 June 2013

2.2.2 The second year (PSTS New Style): three profiles

At the end of the first year students have chosen for an individual profile. The profile is constructed by choosing one profile out of three: Technology and the Human Being, Technology and Values, Dynamics of Science Technology and Society, to which the student adds two electives. This section provides an overview of the general structure of the second year. Masterlab 1 (5 EC’s) is followed parallel to the module and elective courses. It starts in the first quarter with one afternoon in the first week and one afternoon in the last week of the first quarter. In quarter 2 MasterLab 1 is scheduled for one afternoon in each week. In the Second Term

MasterLab 2 is scheduled for one afternoon in two weeks. The second term is spend on the Final Thesis project and if the student chooses to orient on a professional career, a Brief Internship and a shorter Final Thesis Project.

2.2.2.1 TECHNOLOGY AND THE HUMAN BEING

Profile

Term 1

Term 2

Block 1A

Block 1B

Block 2A

Block 2B

Profile 1

Technology and the Human Being

Philosophical Anthropology and Human-Technology Relations

5 EC

Philosophy of Mind and Body and Technology

5 EC

Academic Profile

Master’s Thesis 30 EC

MasterLab 2 (EC’s: part of the Master’s thesis – with all students)

Or

Professional profile
Internship 10 EC

Master’s Thesis 20 EC
MasterLab 2 (EC’s: part of the Master’s thesis – with all students)

Shaping Technology and Use

5 EC

Elective taken from another profile

5 EC

Elective taken from another profile

5 EC

MasterLab 1

5 EC

What is a human being? What is (personal) identity? Which cultural and/or natural features constitute human nature? How is the human being different from (other) animals? These questions revolve around how to understand and conceptualize the human condition and have been investigated within different frameworks, such as classical ontology (Aristotle), economy (Marx), phenomenology (Scheler, Heidegger), existentialism (Kierkegaard, Sartre), and psychoanalysis (Freud). In the twentieth century authors like Plessner, Gehlen, and Foucault have, implicitly or explicitly, argued that technology plays an important role in the constitution of human nature and identity. According to them humans have always shaped and extended themselves by virtue of technical tools and artifacts. In our modern era technology (microscopes, MIR-scans) has become an inherent part of scientific investigation and diagnosis, which also has bearings on our view of human nature.

This profile focuses on how technology influences and constitutes human nature and human existence. In this context we will also study how in the interaction between the human actor and technological artefacts traditional boundaries between design and use are blurred. The rapid development of mind and body enhancing technologies and their influence on human faculties such as rationality, self-consciousness, agency, and autonomy is another important topic of inquiry in this cluster. In addition, we will also reflect on the moral impact of these technologies on our life.

At the end of the course the student has knowledge of and insight in:

theories/approaches that explain the influence of technology on human nature

contemporary views of the human condition (hybrids, cyborgs)

different types of technical extension and mediation

the role of technologies in subjectivation processes

theories that explain the blurring boundaries between design and use

epistemological and moral implications of mind and body enhancing technologies

The profile Technology and the Human Being is discussed briefly below. Detailed course information can be found in chapter 11.1 of this brochure and in the online teaching catalogue on: https://osiris.utwente.nl/student/OnderwijsCatalogus.do

First term

The course ‘Philosophical Anthropology and Human-Technology Relations’ acquaints students with the state of the art in philosophical-anthropological approaches in philosophy of technology. The course focuses on the relations between human beings and technologies, ranging from behavior-steering technology to human enhancement technology, and on ways to assess and improve the quality of these relations. The course develops three lines. Students will be introduced to the basic discussions in these three lines. After that, they choose one of the three lines to get acquainted with state of the art literature and to write a paper. The lines are: (1) Material Morality. By mediating human experiences and practices, technologies have come to play an important role in our moral actions and decisions. (2) Technology and the Limits of Humanity. Technological developments have started to interfere explicitly with human nature. Biotechnologies, brain implants, and enhancement technologies make it possible to reshape humanity in various ways. (3) Art, Technology, and Culture. Technologies help to organize the sensory repertoire of human beings: they disclose new ways of experiencing reality. The ways in which artists experiment with such mediations, therefore, form a highly interesting point of application for the philosophy of contemporary art. Also, this line includes the cultural dimension of human-technology relations and the mediation aspects involved in technology transfer between cultures.

The course Shaping Technology and Use is about: how do human actors through interactions with technological artefacts not only mould their daily life but also (re)shape the technology itself. Users have transcended their status of “passive consumers”. Current phenomena like Web 2.0, Open Source, Wikepedia, etc. are all examples of active, producing users. This active agency in shaping technology in daily activities blurs traditional boundaries between design and use. In the course students will get acquainted with four interrelated scientific fields that all contribute to understanding the changing design-use relations. These are: (1) STS, with special focus on Actor Network Theory: Sociology of translation in networks is elaborated. The script analysis allows for granting the agency of the artefacts themselves. Attachment is a second phenomenon that is analyzed in terms of ANT. (2) Media Studies: In the domestication theory the focus of analysis shifts to the agency of users in the appropriation of technological artefacts. (3) Innovation Studies conceptualizes the dynamics of user/user community innovation. (4) Sociology: Giddens’ structuration theory is integrated with STS insights into a conceptual framing of “Duality of Technology”.

This course Philosophy of Mind, Body and Technology acquaints students with current theories and approaches to the relations between mind, body, and technology. (A) The theme of technology and the body will take Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy of the body as a starting point. From there, it will move to Canguilhem’s theory of Organism versus Machine, Don Ihde’s theory of ‘Bodies in Technology’, and Vivian Sobchak’s work on techno-bodies. Central questions are: how can the relations between bodies and technology be conceptualized? What role can the body play in future philosophy of technology? (B) Philosophy of mind studies the nature of the mind, mental events, mental functions, mental properties, consciousness and their relationship to the physical body, particularly the brain. Questions are raises such as: What do we mean by mind? How do we attribute mentality? How are mental and physical properties related? What is consciousness? An overview of these themes will be offered as a general framework. To address the theme of mind and technology, the course will focus on Andy Clark’s theory of embodied embedded cognition, which links technology and the philosophy of mind. In that context also internalist and externalist approaches to mind, as well as the notion of introspection, will be discussed. After studying the central elements of Clark’s ‘Natural Born Cyborgs’, the focus will be on its relevance for philosophy of technology, and its reception by philosophers of technology (e.g. Selinger). (C) Finally, the course will bring these lines together by addressing issues of identity and technology, focusing on brain technologies and prosthetic technologies in relation to people’s self-understanding and sense of personal identity.

Second term

The ‘Master’s Thesis PSTS’ is the final assignment of the PSTS programme. Students will individually write a Master’s thesis in the domain of philosophy of technology of 40-60 pages, supervised by one or two of the staff-members of the departments of Philosophy and STePS. Next to this daily supervision a graduation committee is installed that meets at least two times with the student. The exam will include an oral defense of the thesis. Students may opt for a brief internship in order to explore labour market options. It is expected that the internship is related to the envisaged final thesis that in turn may be limited to 20 EC, thus compensating the 10EC of the internship.

2.2.2.2 TECHNOLOGY AND VALUES

Profile

Term 1

Term 2

Block 1A

Block 1B

Block 2A

Block 2B

Profile 2

Technology and Values

Technology and the Quality of Life

5 EC

Assessment of Emerging Technologies

5 EC

Academic Profile

Master’s Thesis 30 EC

MasterLab 2 (EC’s: part of the Master’s thesis – with all students)

Or

Professional profile
Internship 10 EC

Master’s Thesis 20 EC
MasterLab 2 (EC’s: part of the Master’s thesis – with all students)

Technology, Globalization and the Environment

5 EC

Elective taken from another profile

5 EC

Elective taken from another profile

5 EC

MasterLab 1

5 EC

This profile focuses on normative, evaluative and critical issues in relation to technology and society. Its central questions are how technology can be developed and used in an ethical way, what good technology is, and how both society and engineering should be organized so as to have technology that is ethically and politically acceptable. The normative focus of the cluster is reflected in its emphasis on public and private values, in relation to individuals and society, and evaluates or prescribes directions for the development of technology according to these values. Values that are studied include freedom, justice, democracy, autonomy, privacy, human dignity, the intrinsic value of humans and nature, responsibility and well-being. Technologies that are studied include information technology and robotics, biomedical technology, nanotechnology, environmental technology, and others. Topics include ethical development of technology, ethical use of technology, the ethics and politics of regulating technology, ethics of emerging technologies, technology and the good life, technology and the quality of society, technology and the environment, technology and globalization and others. The cluster focuses on studies in ethics and social and political philosophy and combines these with studies from other disciplines, including science and technology studies (technology assessment, sociology of users, scenario studies, governance studies), social sciences, engineering and medicine.

First term

The course ‘Technology and the Quality of Life’ introduces the philosophy and ethics of technology in terms of the good life (also known as quality of life or well-being). The question of what a good life consists of has always been one of the major questions of philosophy. It is also a prominent question in the philosophy of technology, as many evaluations of technology ultimately centre around the question whether particular technologies make our lives better. This course examines philosophical theories of the good life and philosophical theories of technology in relation to the good life. The aims of the course are both to introduce current theories of the good life and to gain some training in applying these theories in the analysis of particular technologies and technological practices.

The course Technology, Globalization and the Environment invites students to reflect on problems regarding the relation between technologies and globalization. Particular attention will be paid to electronic information and communication technologies and to specific topics related to geography, society, politics, energy, animals, and especially environment. We will focus on questions such as: Does globalization lead to what McLuhan called a “global village”? Do new ICTs “shrink” the world, and in what sense? Do they imply the “death of geography”, or does place and space still matter? If so, how? What kind of “global society”, “global community” or “global culture” is created, if any? Is the network society a “society”? How do the new technologies influence how we think about cultural difference? Do new media lead us to reconsider the duties we have to strangers? Should animals be part of the global moral community? Is technological and economic globalization necessarily followed by moral and social globalization? How do new technologies shape global finance? Do new electronic military technologies change international politics and warfare in the 21st century? What is the role of technology in coping with global climate change? Are new energy technologies such as smart grids helping to build a more sustainable world? How can ICTs be developed in a way that aids sustainability? How do they shape the way we frame environmental problems? What are conceptual and empirical relations between nature, technology, and environment? The students will be encouraged to engage with these questions by using philosophical methods (conceptual analysis, argumentation) and by using and producing interdisciplinary research.

The course Assessment of Emerging Technologies focuses on the complexities of anticipating, normatively assessing and shaping technologies in development. In ethics of technology, governance theories as well as technology assessment, it is now commonplace to state that the course of technology development should be anticipated and that its desirability should be assessed early on. If technology development progresses, it tends to become too entrenched to change its direction. This means, however, that early anticipation and assessment have to take place at a stage when uncertainties abound. Such uncertainties affect both the ‘doing’ (innovation processes) and the assessing of technologies in development. Both assessment and action build on expectations, rather than robust knowledge. Understanding patterns of expectation-building, for instance social dynamics of expectations, but also patterns of assessment, such as patterns of moral argumentation, are useful to understand de-facto assessment as well as to design appropriate methods for dedicated ethical assessment.

The course invites students to critically reflect on the possibilities and difficulties of anticipating and evaluating the desirability of emerging technologies, and to study and develop methods for early anticipation and evaluation that take the surrounding uncertainties into account. The precise setup of the course varies each year, since it is adjusted to ongoing research by several staff members.

Second term

The third and fourth block students will work on their final thesis. The Master’s Thesis PSTS is embedded as much as possible in the research lines of the departments of Philosophy and STePs. Students are free to choose a graduation subject of their interest, as long as there is someone available that has enough familiarity and time to supervise the project. Students may opt for an brief internship in order to explore labour market options. It is expected that the internship is related to the envisaged final thes that in turn may be limited to 20 EC, thus compensating the 10EC of the internship.

2.2.2.3 Dynamics of Science, Technology and Society

Profile

Term 1

Term 2

Block 1A

Block 1B

Block 2A

Block 2B

Profile 3

Dynamics of Science, Technology and Society

Philosophy of Science and Technology Relations

5 EC

Spatial and Temporal Dynamics of Science, Technology and Society

5 EC

Academic Profile

Master’s Thesis 30 EC

MasterLab 2 (EC’s: part of the Master’s thesis – with all students)

Or

Professional profile
Internship 10 EC

Master’s Thesis 20 EC
MasterLab 2 (EC’s: part of the Master’s thesis – with all students)

Dynamics and Governance of Socio-Technical Change

5 EC

Elective taken from another profile

5 EC

Elective taken from another profile

5 EC

MasterLab 1

5 EC

This cluster explores the dynamics of science, technology and society by focusing on their practices, interactions, institutional and material arrangements, and their dynamic co-evolution. Key questions which will be addressed are: How is knowledge production shaped by its concrete practices and by the material and conceptual resources (instruments, models, laboratory settings) – of its time, in a particular place or discipline? How do science and society mutually shape each other? Which patterns follow socio-technical change? What are possibilities and limitations of governing socio-technical change? How can these insights be mobilized for concrete innovation processes, such as supporting a more sustainable energy system?

In the courses we move from a detailed view of processes of knowledge production on the laboratory floor, to a broader perspective, which addresses how socio-technical systems are embedded in particular ways of usage, production and regulation and how socio-technical change may come about. Finally, we expand historically and geographically, in order to better conceive of how practices, arrangements and dynamics of science, technology and society are situated in time and space. The cluster is self-consciously interdisciplinary, drawing on the perspectives and tools of philosophy, sociology, history and geography.

First term

The course Philosophy of Science and Technology Relations aims at a better understanding of the internal dynamics of scientific research in the context of technological applications, with a focus on epistemological issues. The approach of this course is a Capita Selecta in the so-called Philosophy of Science in Practice. The philosophy of science in practice (PSP) is a relatively new branch on the tree of the philosophy of science. Some salient aspects of its general approach are:

1.

PSP is concerned with not only the acquisition and validation of knowledge, but also its use. Its concern is not only about how pre-existing knowledge gets applied to practical ends, but also about how knowledge itself is fundamentally shaped by its intended use. PSP aims to build meaningful bridges between the philosophy of science and the newer fields of philosophy of technology and philosophy of medicine; and provide fresh perspectives for the latter fields.

2.

It emphasizes how human artifacts, such as conceptual models and laboratory instruments, mediate between theories and the world. It seeks to elucidate the role that these artifacts play in the shaping of scientific practice.

3.

Its view of scientific practice must not be distorted by lopsided attention to certain areas of science. The traditional focus on fundamental physics is supplemented by attention to other fields such as economics and other social/human sciences, the engineering sciences, and the medical sciences.

4.

In its methodology, it is crucial to have a productive interaction between philosophical reasoning and a study of actual scientific practices, past and present. This provides a strong rationale for history-and-philosophy of science as an integrated discipline, and also for inviting the participation of practicing scientists, engineers and policymakers.

The attractiveness of this new and prolific field is its openness to new philosophical ideas and approaches. Moreover, philosophy of science in practice aims at results that are not only relevant for the philosophical discipline itself, but also for a better understanding these practices from the perspectives of scientists, engineers, policy-makers and many others.

In the course Dynamics and Governance of Socio-Technical Change we focus on the co-evolutionary dynamics of technology and society based on an understanding of technology as embedded in specific organizational, institutional and social arrangements, such as particular ways of using, producing, innovating and regulating a technology.

We will reflect on the implications of such a mutual dependence of technological and societal structures – for the regular ‘working’ of socio-technical systems, for innovation and socio-technical change and for possibilities and limitations of governing socio-technical change. ‘Governance’ implies that we are not primarily interested in government and policy action, but that heterogeneous societal actors, such as firms, public organisations, citizens and social movements have a role in modulating change as well.

In this course, we will read and discuss literature on the dynamics and patterns of socio-technical change, focusing in particular on approaches drawing on insights from STS and evolutionary theories (e.g. socio-technical systems and regimes, multi-level dynamics). Furthermore, we will discuss possibilities and limitations for governing these processes and learn about concrete governance approaches and their application that have been developed on the basis of these insights, such as Transition Management, Strategic Niche Management or Constructive Technology Assessment.

In the course Spatial and Temporal Dynamics of Science, Technology and Society the dynamics of science and technology are situated in time and space. Their movement through these dimensions informs both their practical character and development, whether at the local and short-term level of a laboratory or the extensive and long-term level of global travel and exchange. This course takes the spatio-temporal geography of science, technology and society seriously: not just as providing a context in which science and technology take place, but as both a constituting element of their dynamics and an evolving consequence thereof. Topics covered will include:

·

the ways in which geography and development over time are generally treated in philosophical, sociological and historical studies of science and technology - and the analytical consequences thereof;

·

the role of a laboratory's internal geography (its architecture and furnishings) and 'external' setting in the production of knowledge;

·

the long-term development of science as a mutually constitutive element of global history, with a special focus on imperialism and globalization;

·

the history and future of innovation in global context, with a critical examination of '(post-) industrial revolutions'.

Second term

The third and fourth block students will work on their final thesis. The Master’s Thesis PSTS is embedded as much as possible in the research lines of the departments of Philosophy and STePs. Students are free to choose a graduation subject of their interest, as long as there is someone available that has enough familiarity and time to supervise the project. Students may opt for an brief internship in order to explore labour market options. It is expected that the internship is related to the envisaged final thesis that in turn may be limited to 20 EC, thus compensating the 10EC of the internship.