The Empirical Turn

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The history of the philosophy of technology is marked by a transition in its approach to technology. After an initial twentieth-century phase of analyzing ‘Technology’ and its conditions and social implications, a period now indicated as ‘classical philosophy of technology,’ the field made an ‘empirical turn’ in order to do more justice to the concreteness of actual technologies in their relations with human beings and societies. This chapter describes how the empirical turn emerged out of earlier approaches in philosophy of technology, how it took shape in several variants, and what it has implied for the field. It does so by elaborating how the philosophy of technology developed into both a philosophy from technology (taking technological developments as a starting point for philosophical analysis), and a philosophy for technology (connecting new forms of ethical analysis to the development, implementation and use of technologies).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Technology
EditorsShannon Vallor
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9780190851187
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameOxford Handbooks
PublisherOxford University Press


  • Classical philosophy of technology
  • Transcendentalism
  • Empirical turn
  • Human-technology relations
  • Engineering philosophy of technology
  • Ethics of technology
  • Technomoral change
  • Design ethics
  • Mediation theory
  • Guidance ethics


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