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Friday, April 30, 2021

Experimental Philosophy of Technology

Steven Kraaijeveld
Philosophy & Technology


Experimental philosophy is a relatively recent discipline that employs experimental methods to investigate the intuitions, concepts, and assumptions behind traditional philosophical arguments, problems, and theories. While experimental philosophy initially served to interrogate the role that intuitions play in philosophy, it has since branched out to bring empirical methods to bear on problems within a variety of traditional areas of philosophy—including metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and epistemology. To date, no connection has been made between developments in experimental philosophy and philosophy of technology. In this paper, I develop and defend a research program for an experimental philosophy of technology.


The field of experimental philosophy has, through its engagement with experimental methods, become an important means of obtaining knowledge about the intuitions, concepts, and assumptions that lie behind philosophical arguments, problems, and theories across a wide variety of philosophical disciplines. In this paper, I have extended this burgeoning research program to philosophy of technology, providing both a general outline of how an experimental philosophy of technology might look and a more specific methodology and set of programs that engages with research already being conducted in the field. I have responded to potential objections to an experimental philosophy of technology and I have argued for a number of unique strengths of the approach. Aside from engaging with work that already involves intuitions in techno-philosophical research, a booming experimental philosophy of technology research program can offer a unifying methodology for a diverse set of subfields, a way of generating knowledge across disciplines without necessarily requiring specialized knowledge; and, at the very least, it can make those working in philosophy of technology—and those in society who engage with technology, which is all of us—more mindful of the intuitions about technology that we may, rightly or wrongly, hold.