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Technology and the Good Life?$
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Eric Higgs, Andrew Light, and David Strong Strong

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780226333861

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226333885.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 27 January 2022

Focaltechnics, Pragmatechnics, and the Reform of Technology

Focaltechnics, Pragmatechnics, and the Reform of Technology

(p.89) Five Focaltechnics, Pragmatechnics, and the Reform of Technology
Technology and the Good Life?

Larry Hickman

University of Chicago Press

This chapter addresses two related questions: How can we evaluate appropriate and inappropriate technology? And how can we evaluate focal things and practices, for surely many of them are troubling? The chapter, inspired by John Dewey's work, has developed a pragmatic philosophy of technology—pragmatechnics. The chapter contrasts pragmatechnics with focaltechnics, a characterization of Borgmann's vision of appropriate technology. Borgmann presents a rigid essentialism, splitting technology into “two ledger columns” of bad and good. The device paradigm is bad; devices as supportive of focal things are good. The chapter argues for a “flexible functionalism” that would counter what is perceived here as a tendency by Borgmann to reduce a device to an essential property. This chapter's claim is that pragmatechnics are more flexible and better for understanding the complexities of contemporary technological life.

Keywords:   pragmatechnics, focaltechnics, Borgmann, technology, device paradigm, flexible functionalism

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