In a world of information technologies, genetic engineering, controversies about established science, and the mysteries of quantum physics, it is at once seemingly impossible and absolutely vital to find ways to make sense of how science, technology, and society connect. In Feedback Loops: Pragmatism about Science & Technology, editors Andrew Wells Garnar and Ashley Shew bring together original writing from philosophers and science and technology studies scholars to provide novel ways of rethinking the relationships among science, technology, education, and society. Through critiquing and exploring the work of philosopher of science and technology Joseph C. Pitt, the authors featured in this volume investigate the complexities of contemporary technoscience, writing on topics ranging from super-computing to pedagogy, engineering to biotechnology patents, and scientific instruments to disability studies. Taken together, these chapters develop an argument about the necessity of using pragmatism to foster a more productive relationship among science, technology and society.
Andrew Wells Garnar earned his Ph.D. from Virginia Tech.
Ashley Shew is assistant professor at Virginia Tech in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society.
Andrew Wells Garnar and Ashley Shew
1 The Pursuit of Machoflops: the Rise and Fall of High Performance Computing
Anne C. Fitzpatrick
2 The Applicability of Copyright to Synthetic Biology: The Intersection of Technology and the Law
3 A Defense of Sicilian Realism
Andrew Wells Garnar
4 Quasi-fictional Idealization
5 Technological Knowledge in Disability Design
6 The Effects of Social Networking Sites on Critical Self-Reflection
7 A Celtic Knot, from Strands of Pragmatic Philosophy
8 Moral values in technical artifacts
9 Engineering Students as Technological Artifacts – Reflections on Pragmatism and Philosophy in Engineering Education
Brandiff R. Caron
10 Gravity and Technology
11 Joe Pitt, the Philosophical Imagination, and the Practice of Pedagogy
James H. Collier
Joseph C. Pitt
I had the honor of being the first to graduate with a PhD in Science and Technology Studies from Virginia Tech; Joe Pitt was my supervisor. When I decided to ask Joe to be my PhD supervisor, my fellow graduate students thought I must be out of my mind because Joe Pitt had a reputation (unfair in my opinion) of being a tough and nasty professor. What motivated me to ask Joe as my PhD supervisor was because both Joe and I were interested in the T part of the STS equation, contrary to the dominant trend of the time assuming STS as just “science studies.” I believe my decision to ask Joe to be my supervisor was one of the best decisions I made in my academic career. As a practicing engineer who was fascinated by the emerging field of STS, I was flabbergasted by the uncritical deployment of postmodern and post-structuralist theories used to “unpack,” “deconstruct,” and, essentially, blame science and technology for the problems of the world, whether it had to do with the economy, politics, the environment or social anomie. What we shared in common was our pragmatic approach science and technology as neither value-free nor neutral. This volume is an excellent and timely tribute to appreciate Joe’s major contribution to understanding technology as tools and a form of knowledge.
Joe Pitt arrived at Virginia Tech, 1971. I arrived at Stony Brook, 1969. This makes the two of us very long-term philosophers of Technology, both active in the Society for Philosophy and Technology, the earliest philosophy of technology organization. From the now rare Festschrift I learned that my first impressions of Joe as a "Feisty" phil-techer: from his style of admired teaching--close reading of texts; wrench throwing at students, and early "empirical turn" non-nonsense looks at specific technologies. I only knew from a distance he was also "contrarian." His chosen favorites--Joe is the only philosopher of technology who still holds to technological neutrality regarding values, and while a pragmatist (much of his common sense) he's remains closer to what I regard as old fashioned Positivism. One of the few remaining analytic phil-teachers, we shared our dislikes of early SPT dystopianism. I still can learn from Joe.
These wide-ranging and highly informative essays on philosophy and technology, contributed by eleven former students and colleagues in honor of Joseph C. Pitt, testify to an outstanding career dedicated to excellence in research and teaching.
During the last half century, Philosophy of Technology has developed into a mature field producing rich and important scholarship. This volume is a fitting tribute to Joe Pitt, a major and founding force in the field’s development. The chapters represent the field at its best in conversation and collaboration with Philosophy of Science and STS.