Mitcham – Hickman Was Right about Dewey: I’m Less Sure about Dewey

Carl Mitcham

Colorado School of Mines

Larry Hickman has made a substantial case for John Dewey as having a sophisticated, comprehensive philosophy of technology. After years of resisting Hickman’s claim, I became convinced that Dewey’s pragmatism in fact contains a strong epistemological, ethical, and political analysis of modern technology that offers an alternative to many of the interpretations of classic (Heidegger, Ellul) and later generation philosophers (Ihde, Borgmann, Feenberg) that can often incorporate many of their insights. And yet I remain troubled by the implications and prospects for a world conceived in such thorough going techno-pragmatist terms — troubled, as well, by my own difficulty in spelling these out. I will take this occasion to try to reflect on my doubts by drawing on the work of Daniel Kahneman and associated cognitive psychologists.

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