Peter-Paul Verbeek

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Peter-Paul Verbeek (born 6 December 1970, Middelburg) is a Dutch philosopher of technology, chair of the philosophy department at the University of Twente[1] (Netherlands), member of the Dutch council for the Humanities and chair of the Society for Philosophy and Technology[2]

Background[edit]

Verbeek studied Philosophy of Science, Technology & Society at the University of Twente and obtained his PhD in 2000. His dissertation was published in English under the title "What things do: philosophical reflections on technology, agency and design".[3] He worked closely together with Hans Achterhuis and Don Ihde in formulating an original, post-phenomenological approach in the tradition of Philosophy of Technology. As chair of the philosophy department at the University of Twente, he has been chairman of the young academy, the platform for young researchers of the Dutch Royal Academy of Sciences. Currently, he works on a research project for which he obtained an NWO Vici grant[4] aimed at the expansion of his theory of technological mediation in the areas of metaphysics, epistemology and ethics.

Theory of Technological Mediation[edit]

Verbeek's theory of technological mediation builds on the postphenomenological approach that was firstly stipulated by Don Ihde. This approach finds its origins in a synthesis between classical phenomenology and American pragmatism, with as one of its major premises the thesis that "technology only bears meaning in a use context".[5] From a critique of classical philosophy of technology, in which Verbeek explicitly elaborates on the existentialist philosophy of Karl Jaspers and the hermeneutic philosophy of technology of Martin Heidegger.

Verbeek presents as the purpose of his theory of technological mediation to systematically analyzing the influence of technology on human behavior in terms of the role technology plays in human-world relations.[6] In his original theory, a number of different human-technology-world relations are stipulated:[7]

  • Embodiment relations: in which the technology does not call attention to itself but to aspects of the world given through it (e.g. glasses)
  • Hermeneutic relations: in which the technology represent a certain aspect of the world (e.g. a thermometer)
  • Background relations: in which technology shapes the experiential context, going beyond conscious experience (e.g. room temperature through a central heating system)
  • Alterity relations: in which technology presents itself as quasi other to the subject (e.g. an ATM)

A unique feature of Verbeek's philosophy of technology is its basis in an empirical analysis of technologies. Instead of generating an overarching framework by which the universal features of specific technologies can be analyzed, Verbeek takes the technology itself as point of departure; which is for example illustrated by his analysis of ultrasound technology [8]

Selected works[edit]

  • Verbeek, P.P. (2011), Moralizing Technology: Understanding and Designing the Morality of Things. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
  • Verbeek, P.P. (2005), What Things Do – Philosophical Reflections on Technology, Agency, and Design. Penn State: Penn State University Press, ISBN 0-271-02539-5 (264 pp.)
  • Kroes, P. and P.P. Verbeek (eds.) (2014), The Moral Status of Technical Artefacts. Dordrecht: Springer, ISBN 978-94-007-7913-6 (248 pp.)
  • Verbeek, P.P. and A. Slob (eds.) (2006), User Behavior and Technology Development – Shaping Sustainable Relations between Consumers and Technologies. Dordrecht: Springer, ISBN 1-4020-4433-X / 978-1-4020-4433-5 (412 pp.)

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.ppverbeek.nl/ Retrieved 8th of february 2015
  2. ^ http://www.spt.org/board/ Retrieved 8th of february 2015
  3. ^ http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/0-271-02539-5.html Retrieved 8th of february 2015
  4. ^ http://ethicsandtechnology.eu/news/peter-paul-verbeek-awarded-the-nwo-vici-prize/ Retrieved 8th of february 2015
  5. ^ Ihde (2009) Postphenomenology and Technoscience; Sunny Press
  6. ^ Verbeek (2006); Materializing Morality; Science, technology & human values; vol. 31 nr. 1 p.363
  7. ^ Verbeek (2005) What things do; philosophical reflections on technology, agency, and design; Pennsylvania University Press (p.126-128)
  8. ^ Verbeek (2008) Obstetric Ultrasound and the Technological Mediation of Morality : A Postphenomenological Analysis; Human Studies