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Volume 24 • Number 2

April 2010



Technology, Social Change, and Liberty: The Ethics of Regulating New Technologies

by Anton Petrenko and Dan McArthur

There is a wide body of literature that proposes we approach the subject of the ethics of technology with an extreme skepticism about the effects of new technology on people and society. While caution can be fairly uncontroversial in cases of technologies that threaten the health and safety of individuals or pose significant environmental damage, a large and growing literature urges severe limits on technological developments and exchange in order to further social and egalitarian goals. The purpose of this paper will be to categorize and identify general argumentative patterns in this literature and to formulate a response to this line of thinking on the basis of liberal philosophical principles. The first section of this paper will briefly outline some characteristic presentations of this techno-limiting view that we shall identify as the "levelling-down view" and identify common features of such positions permitting the identification of a general trend. The subsequent section will formulate a liberal critique of this position, relying on the argument that, despite appearances, freedoms

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ISSN: 2152-0542