A Manifesto for Messy Philosophy of Technology: The History and Future of an Academic Field

Gregory Morgan Swer, Jean Du Toit

DOI: https://doi.org/10.46938/tv.2020.491


Philosophy of technology was not initially considered a consolidated field of inquiry. However, under the influence of sociology and pragmatist philosophy, something resembling a consensus has emerged in a field previously marked by a lack of agreement amongst its practitioners. This has given the field a greater sense of structure and yielded interesting research. However, the loss of the earlier “messy” state has resulted in a limitation of the field’s scope and methodology that precludes an encompassing view of the problematic issues inherent in the question of technology. It is argued that the heterodox disunity and diversity of earlier philosophy of technology was not a mark of theoretical immaturity but was necessitated by the field’s complex subject matter. It is further argued that philosophy of technology should return to its pluralistic role as a meta-analytical structure linking insights from different fields of research.


philosophy of technology; pragmatism; social construction of technology; Lewis Mumford

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