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Dost, F.J.

Author: Frank Dost
Graduation Year: 2011
Department: Practical Philosophy
Title: Moral aspects of technology. On the use of prescription drugs for enhancement purposes

Recent studies have shown that a significant part of the students in the United States, but in the Netherlands as well, is using prescription drugs (like Ritalin) for enhancement purposes. Drugs like Ritalin enable healthy students to perform better, longer and faster. This example shows that technological artifacts sometimes have moral aspects. But the question arises whether our traditional concepts of technology and morality are suitable for understanding these moral aspects of technology. If we would think of technology in terms of tools that we use, and are essentially neutral and literally objective, we would miss the fact that technology ‘acts’. It imposes certain ways of acting on us and changes the way we relate to the world: technology mediates our relationship to the world. At the same time, if we think of morality as the gatekeeper between technology and humanity, as the one thing that protects us from subjugation to technological dominance, we would miss the fact that morality also changes technology. So the traditional view on technology and morality seems incapable of understanding the complex relationship that technology and morality in reality have.

In my thesis I will offer critique on this traditional view of technology and morality and attempt to offer an alternative that enables us to conceptualize the complex relationship of technology and morality. Technology influences our morality and morality also influences technology, but what kind of relationship is this? In my attempt to offer an alternative perspective on technology and morality, I will use Tsjalling Swierstra’s suggestion to think of this relationship in terms of a marriage mixed with the interpretation of Foucault’s notions of ‘self-care’ and ‘self-mastery’ offered by Peter-Paul Verbeek and Steven Dorrestijn. Also, Ivo van Hilvoorde’s analysis of the ‘doping-debate’ in elite sports is reviewed in order to see what this analysis has to offer in our case of students using prescription drugs for non-therapeutic purposes. 
Laatst gewijzigd:01 november 2013 14:11