This page contains a list of the four best books on the philosophy of technology. Finding good introductory philosophy books can be difficult for two reasons. First, searching google for recommendations usually doesn’t bring up anything useful. Second, phrases like “best books on the philosophy of technology” are ambiguous. One person may be looking for a short, beginner friendly introduction, someone else may want a comprehensive academic overview, a third person may be looking for classic works on the philosophy of technology. This list tries to account for this ambiguity by recommending different types of books on the philosophy of technology. This list was created by compiling recommendations from across the internet and is not a list of personal recommendations. More information about this process is at the end of the post. Here are the best books on the philosophy of technology in no particular order:
Philosophy of Technology: An Introduction – Val Dusek
Publisher description: Ideal for undergraduate students in philosophy and science studies, Philosophy of Technology offers an engaging and comprehensive overview of a subject vital to our time.
- An up-to-date, accessible overview of the philosophy of technology, defining technology and its characteristics.
- Explores the issues that arise as technology becomes an integral part of our society.
- In addition to traditional topics in science and technology studies, the volume offers discussion of technocracy, the romantic rebellion against technology.
- Complements The Philosophy of Technology: The Technological Condition: An Anthology, edited by Robert C. Scharff and Val Dusek (Blackwell, 2003).
A Companion to the Philosophy of Technology – Jan Kyrre Berg Olsen et al.
Publisher description: Drawing on essays from leading international and multi-disciplinary scholars, A Companion to the Philosophy of Technology is the first comprehensive and authoritative reference source to cover the key issues of technology’s impact on society and our lives.
- Presents the first complete, authoritative reference work in the field
- Organized thematically for use both as a full introduction to the field or an encyclopedic reference
- Draws on original essays from leading interdisciplinary scholars
- Features the most up-to-date and cutting edge research in the interdisciplinary fields of philosophy, technology, and their broader intellectual environments
Philosophy of Technology: The Technological Condition: An Anthology – Robert C. Scharff & Val Dusek
Publisher description: The new edition of this authoritative introduction to the philosophy of technology includes recent developments in the subject, while retaining the range and depth of its selection of seminal contributions and its much-admired editorial commentary.
- Remains the most comprehensive anthology on the philosophy of technology available
- Includes editors’ insightful section introductions and critical summaries for each selection
- Revised and updated to reflect the latest developments in the field
- Combines difficult to find seminal essays with a judicious selection of contemporary material
- Examines the relationship between technology and the understanding of the nature of science that underlies technology studies
What Things Do – Peter-Paul Verbeek
Publisher description: Our modern society is flooded with all sorts of devices: TV sets, automobiles, microwaves, mobile phones. How are all these things affecting us? How can their role in our lives be understood? What Things Do answers these questions by focusing on how technologies mediate our actions and our perceptions of the world.
Peter-Paul Verbeek develops this innovative approach by first distinguishing it from the classical philosophy of technology formulated by Jaspers and Heidegger, who were concerned that technology would alienate us from ourselves and the world around us. Against this gloomy and overly abstract view, Verbeek draws on and extends the work of more recent philosophers of technology like Don Ihde, Bruno Latour, and Albert Borgmann to present a much more empirically rich and nuanced picture of how material artifacts shape our existence and experiences. In the final part of the book Verbeek shows how his “postphenomenological” approach applies to the technological practice of industrial designers.
Its systematic and historical review of the philosophy of technology makes What Things Do suitable for use as an introductory text, while its innovative approach will make it appealing to readers in many fields, including philosophy, sociology, engineering, and industrial design.
This list was created by following a method that I’ve found to be useful when searching for introductory philosophy books. It involves:
- browsing required reading lists on university course syllabi
- searching for books using the Open Syllabus Project
- browsing the bibliographies of articles on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- searching for recommendations on philosophy forums
The following sources were used to build this list:
University Course Syllabi:
- Bibliography for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on the Philosophy of Technology
- Bibliography for the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on the Philosophy of Technology
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