Technoscience and the dereification of nature


  • Andrew Feenberg School of Communication, Simon Fraser University,



The many definitions of technoscience are offered as correctives to an ideal of pure science, completely separate from society. The critique of purity in Science and Technology Studies was preceded by phenomenological critiques in Heidegger and Marcuse. The idea of purity is no longer credible. Yet the concept of pure science has played a role historically in defending science against political interference. The concept of technoscience risks opening science to such interference and has provoked a renewed and rather futile defense of its purity. The consensus in STS that science is fundamentally social seems to obviate the need for a term such as technoscience. This paper suggests a restrictive definition of technoscience based on the multiplication of independent tests of validity. This is an extreme case of the sociality of science because here science and technology emerge together rather than theory preceding application. Technoscience under this definition would describe scientific work, validated scientifically, that serves simultaneously in commercial and public processes which have their own independent logic and tests of validity. Under this definition, the existence of complex interactions between science and society does not blur the boundaries between these tests. Technoscience is embedded in society like all science, but is unique in standing at a “fork” between distinct languages and criteria of success.

Keywords: Technoscience, STS, Heidegger, Marcuse, science/society.

Author Biography

Andrew Feenberg, School of Communication, Simon Fraser University,

Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Technology in the School of Communication, Simon Fraser University, where he directs the Applied Communication and Technology Lab. He has also taught for many years in the Philosophy Department at San Diego State University, and at Duke University, the State University of New York at Buffalo, the Universities of California, San Diego and Irvine, the Sorbonne, the University of Paris-Dauphine, the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, and the University of Tokyo and the University of Brasilia.  Dr. Feenberg is Directeur de Programme at the College Internationale de Philosophie for the period 2013-2019.