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Technoscientific Angst

Ethics And Responsibility

Raphael Sassower

Publication Year: 1997

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

Published by: University of Minnesota Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xvi

The anguish of artists and poets is celebrated by societies that expect justice and happiness in the future regardless of their current conditions. Anguish is accepted and endorsed not so much as a judgment about the present but as a means to envision and usher in a different future. ...

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1 Responsible Technoscience: The Haunting Reality of Auschwitz and Hiroshima

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pp. 1-17

The commemoration in 1995 of the fiftieth anniversaries of two major events of World War II, the liberation of Auschwitz (January 1945) and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima (August 1945), invites us to use these events as starting points for self-examination. ...

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2 Public Expectations of Technoscience: From Truth to Immortality

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pp. 18-39

The first part of this chapter explores how we have voluntarily brought ourselves into the modernist situation described in Chapter 1. It focuses on the need for control of both the social and natural environments through an authority one can believe in, an authority that deflects superstition, dogma, and manipulation. ...

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3 Ambiguity and Anxiety: The Making of Human Anguish

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pp. 40-61

The first part of this chapter traces the human quest for order and the traditional gratification of this desire through religious doctrine (this parallels my examination of control in chapter 2). I then argue that the technoscientific community continued in this tradition to accomplish a similar goal of providing an ordered conception of the universe. ...

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4 The Postmodern Option: A Dialectical Critique

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pp. 62-80

In this chapter I examine the views expressed by the leaders and members of the Manhattan Project concerning their personal responsibility for the development of weaponry capable of the mass destruction of human lives. In order to articulate these concerns I will probe three sets of issues: ...

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5 Responsible Technoscience: A Reconstruction

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pp. 81-99

The requirement to address the great calamities of our century, as it was raised in Chapter i, is reflected in the endemic condition of ambiguity, anxiety, and anguish described in Chapters 2. and 3. The technoscientific community is in need of a postmodernist dose of flexibility and openness, as well as their consequence, responsibility, in order to ensure its political integrity— ...

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6 The Price of Responsibility: From Personal to Financial

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pp. 100-118

This chapter attempts a difficult feat: to retain a postmodern orientation in the ethical realm despite the limits of postmodernism. In other words, I try to walk a tightrope that spans the abyss between absolutism and relativism. As Bauman so eloquently says: ...

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7 Cultural Changes: Agenda Setting

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pp. 119-130

In order to ascribe responsibility to members of the technoscientific community or to particular groups of leaders (political, military, or academic) or to the (voting and nonvoting) public at large, it may be helpful to rethink the notion of responsibility in its legal setting. ...


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pp. 131-136


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pp. 137-140

E-ISBN-13: 9780816688142
E-ISBN-10: 0816688141
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816629572

Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 1997

Edition: First edition

OCLC Number: 232159935
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Technoscientific Angst

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Subject Headings

  • Technology -- Philosophy.
  • Technology -- Moral and ethical aspects.
  • Science -- Philosophy.
  • Science -- Moral and ethical aspects.
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