The many kinds of objects that technoscientific objects are

Hugh Lacey


Technoscientific objects are penetrating ever more profoundly into the socio-ecological systems that shape the contemporary lifeworld in ways that have brought about widely celebrated benefits, and also many kinds of risks for human health, the environment and society. There are many kinds of technoscientific objects, such as physical, chemical or biological objects that are outcomes of technical/experimental/instrumental interventions made in the course of research conducted in such areas as computer science, biotechnology, nanotechnology, neurosciences, geo-engineering, synthetic biology and artificial intelligence. Moreover, every technoscientific object is itself an object of many kinds, not only an object whose genesis, functioning and effective use are well understood in areas like these, but also a social, economic, ecological and cultural object; and, for each kind that the object is, there are associated specific causal mechanisms whose operations, when triggered in the course of using it in the lifeworld, may lead to effects on and risks for human lives, social arrangements and the environment (Section 1). I will illustrate these claims as they apply to the exemplary technoscientific objects, transgenics (GMOs) used in agriculture (Section 2). Then (Section 3), generalizing the discussion about transgenics, I will argue that appraising the value and legitimacy of introducing and using technoscientific objects adequately requires being informed by the results of scientific investigation that take into account all the kinds of things that they are, and (to the extent possible) all the causal mechanisms from which the effects and risks of using them may arise.

Keywords: Technoscientific objects, transgenics, ecological and social responsibility.


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