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Technoscientific Angst

Ethics and Responsibility

1997
Author:

Raphael Sassower

Technoscientific Angst

Reassesses the social and ethical situations of technoscientists.

In this sobering exploration of scientific and intellectual responsibility, Raphael Sassower “skillfully relates the lessons of Auschwitz and Hiroshima, placing them in context and treating them as resources for contemporary decision-making at the intersection of the technosciences, public policy, and personal ethics. He has crafted an account of these watershed events that is both deeply informative and broadly accessible.” --Larry Hickman, Southern Illinois University

“Technoscientific Angst: Ethics and Responsibility skillfully relates the lessons of Auschwitz and Hiroshima, placing them in context and treating them as resources for contemporary decision-making at the intersection of the technosciences, public policy, and personal ethics. Writing in the tradition of Hans Jonas and Hannah Arendt, Sassower has crafted an account of these watershed events that is both deeply informative and broadly accessible.” Larry Hickman, The Center for Dewey Studies, Southern Illinois University

Reassesses the social and ethical situations of technoscientists.

What responsibility do the Manhattan Project scientists have for the atomic devastation of Hiroshima? The Krupps scientists for the crematoriums at Auschwitz? Disturbing questions like these are at the heart of this book, a sobering exploration of scientific and intellectual responsibility.

Raphael Sassower considers two related phenomena: the positive public image of science as the citadel of truth and objectivity and the angst displayed by scientists over their indirect roles in technological horrors. Largely unexamined, these circumstances provide the opportunity for a wholesale reassessment of the social and ethical situations of science and technology. In a world in which daily technological developments, from the space shuttle to genetic engineering, raise complex political and economic questions, this book provides a framework for assessing the social impact and ethical implications of scientific work.

Is there no way, Sassower asks, to revisit the ideals of science-once devoted to creating a more reasonable and open society free from prejudices-when deciding the value of technoscientific projects and policies? His work suggests ways we can both preserve the benefits of enlightenment rationality (so-called scientific objectivity) and overcome the notion of science as our culture’s master narrative.

Bringing the tools of postmodern philosophy and criticism to bear on Auschwitz and Hiroshima, the most brutal and incomprehensible instances of scientific modernism, Technoscientific Angst proposes that we change our scientific and philosophical perspectives on the modern world-that we bring them together in a novel and constructive way.

160 pages
Translation rights: University of Minnesota Press

Technoscientific Angst

Raphael Sassower is professor and chair of the department of philosophy at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He is the author of Cultural Collisions: Postmodern Technoscience (1995) and Knowledge without Expertise: On the Status of Scientists (1993).

Technoscientific Angst

“Technoscientific Angst: Ethics and Responsibility skillfully relates the lessons of Auschwitz and Hiroshima, placing them in context and treating them as resources for contemporary decision-making at the intersection of the technosciences, public policy, and personal ethics. Writing in the tradition of Hans Jonas and Hannah Arendt, Sassower has crafted an account of these watershed events that is both deeply informative and broadly accessible.” Larry Hickman, The Center for Dewey Studies, Southern Illinois University

“Raphael Sassower claims not to be a ‘defender of the postmodern faith’; and he is certainly not, as he puts it, ‘a promoter of technoscience’ in any normal sense. What his gem of a philosophical essay does is challenge technoscientists in the name of postmodernism. And issuing his challenge on the fiftieth anniversaries of the liberation of Auschwitz and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima makes his appeal especially powerful. Discovering a ‘technoscientific angst’ associated with those past events, Sassower challenges scientists and engineers - and the society that reveres them - to rethink basic cultural commitments for the future.” Paul T. Durbin, University of Delaware

“Sassower provides an engaging, concise investigation of ethics and responsibility issues in ‘technoscience,’ referring jointly to the interrelated activities of the science, technology, and engineering communities.” Choice

“This text is significant because Sassower takes reflection seriously and because he examines the sources and the consequences of the tragedies carefully and intelligently.” Bridges

Technoscientific Angst

Contents

Preface

1 Responsible Technoscience: The Haunting Reality of Auschwitz and Hiroshima
2 Public Expectations of Technoscience: From Truth to Immortality
3 Ambiguity and Anxiety: The Making of Human Anguish
4 The Postmodern Option: A Dialectical Critique
5 Responsible Technoscience: A Reconstruction
6 The Price of Responsibility: From Personal to Financial
7 Cultural Changes: Agenda Setting

References

Index