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University Bulletin

Undergraduate Degree Programs

Science, Technology, and Society (S T S)

S T S 233 (GH) (PHIL 233) Ethics and the Design of Technology (3) Ethics and individual and group decision-making in the design of technology including design projects and specific attention to institutional ethics.

S T S (PHIL) 233 Ethics and The Design of Technology (3)
(GH)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.

Technology has been around nearly as long as humans have been around. Humans have always created artifacts and artificial environments to aid us in our survival and to help fulfill our needs and desires. Moreover, today technology is all pervasive, transforming and conditioning our social and political relations, our cultural understanding of ourselves, and our relationship with other animals and the natural environment. Yet not much thought has been expended upon the meaning of technology, particularly in its moral dimensions. This course takes several steps to correct this deficiency. Because technologies can have far reaching effects well beyond the domain of their immediate application, the role of designers is crucial in deciding whether we take an intelligent or unintelligent approach to technology. All technologies exist to serve one human need or another. Designers make important choices concerning the creation, development, and deployment of many if not most technological innovations. Consequently, the task of the designer is an ethical one. Our goal is twofold: First, we will try to broaden our moral imaginations by taking into account the wider ranging effects that technologies have in order to reveal the moral significance of design choices. Second, we will examine the process of design itself, particularly in the way that the design process is similar to ethical reasoning in general. It is hoped that by accomplishing these two tasks, we will be empowered as designers, customers, citizens, and future employers to make choices that better fulfill the moral task of technological innovation. Two means will be used to achieve our course goals. Much of the time will be spent thinking about and discussing the various impacts that particular technologies have upon the social, cultural, and political lives of human beings and upon the natural environment. To facilitate thoughtful discussion, we will read a number of authors, writing short papers in preparation for critical discussion in class. In this way we will be better prepared to discuss and think about the issues at hand by having had the chance to organize our thoughts in advance. The second means is aimed at putting our ideas into practice by working in teams on several design projects. These design projects will require the integration of readings, discussion, and research and their synthesis to solve a design problem. Student teams will work cooperatively on these projects and make oral progress reports as well as final written and oral reports.


General Education: GH
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: Humanities
Effective: Spring 2004

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.