Some implications of the philosophy of technology for Science, Technology and Society (STS) studies

Piet Ankiewicz, Estelle De Swardt, Marc De Vries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Technology is frequently considered in terms of its impact on entities outside its essential nature: as the impact of technology on the environment and society, but also the impact of human values and needs on technology. By taking particular social implications of technology into account, the Science-Technology relationship can be extended to the field of Science, Technology and Society (STS) studies. STS studies are grounded in socio-technological understanding, that is, systematic knowledge of the mutual relationship between technical objects, the natural environment and social practice. Because technology is a key element of STS, it is expected that the philosophy of technology will have implications for STS studies. The dynamic nature of technology as such leaves its own philosophy in a tentative or flexible state. However, the implications of the philosophy of technology, being in a development phase at the moment with changes in emphasis occuring, for STS studies ought to be determined continuously. The aim of the article is to identify and discuss possible implications of the the philosophy of technology for STS. In order to deduce these implications, the relevant theoretical framework underpinning the article will be discussed in broad outlines. Seeing that the philosophy of technology is such a wide field a delineation of the field needs to be done. Mitcham's proposed preliminary framework is taken as point of departure for the article. Technology as knowledge (epistemology/theory of knowledge) and technology as activity (design methodology) will be discussed as two key aspects of the modern philosophy of technology which could provide implications for STS. A theory of knowledge usually includes methodology, but seeing that Mitcham classified methodology as one of the modes in which technology is manifested, it is dealt with separately. The epistemology and methodology of technology will each be discussed from a philosophical, historical and practice-based methodological perspective. Some implications of the philosophy for STS are identified and discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-141
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Technology and Design Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2006


  • Design methodology
  • Epistemology of technology
  • Philosophy of technology
  • Science
  • Technology and Society (STS) studies
  • Technology education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Engineering


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