Hildebrand – Hickman’s Productive Pragmatism and the Existential Challenge of Information Technologies

David L. Hildebrand

University of Colorado Denver

Hickman’s work in pragmatism and the philosophy of technology have never lost sight of a goal basic to American philosophy — the project of making life more meaningful. This paper will look at several of Hickman’s most important ideas at the intersection of pragmatism and the philosophy of technology in order to understand how his pragmatic approach to technology resists the all too common faults of essentialism, pessimism, and utopianism.

Tools have always been with us, and their meaning rests with what we do with them and with how we conceive of our relationship with them. In the end, this becomes a question of what we want to become, and Hickman’s sensitivity to both the situational and experiential questions of technology provide a wider philosophy which aims at wisdom, in the classic sense of that term.

Ihde – Hickman, after 32 Years

Don Ihde

SUNY Stonybrook

Early convinced that the Praxis philosophies led philosophy to technology, I asked Larry Hickman to do a book on Dewey for the first series on philosophy of technology with Indiana University Press. He did, and thus John Dewey’s Pragmatic Technology (1990) was published along with Michael Zimmerman’s Heidegger’s Confrontation with Modernity (1990) and my own Technology and the Lifeworld (1990), a systematic redoing of my earlier Technics and Praxis (1979). By 2001, Larry had also published Philosophical Tools for Technological Culture with the Indiana series, thus making him part of this early American philosophy of technology generation.

I have followed Larry’s work all along, now 32 years. In the pragmatism of Dewey and Rorty, I recognized compatibility with the European phenomenologies of Husserl, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty. All held in common an anti-reductionistic praxis, anti-early-modern body-mind epistemologies, and were pro-experiential and pro-perception in their outlooks (via animal models, not Cartesian-Lockean ones). So, what I admired early in Dewey was his Darwinian approach to experience–the animal-organism/environment model of testing for problems, which I saw echoed in phenomenology. This led, as we today know, to my post-phenomenological approach which began in l988 with my Rorty-inspired Gothenburg lectures. I have always owed Pragmatism its debts and have regarded Hickman as an inspiration.

Kramer and Waks – Bibliometrics and Qualitative Assessment: A Pragmatist Approach

Eli Kramer

Institute of Philosophy
University of Wrocław

Eli Kramer

Leonard Waks

Temple University (Emeritus)

In this presentation, we offer a Deweyan assessment of the problematic situation surrounding how to assess successful scholarly work toward career advancement. Bibliometric assessment of the reach of academic essays poses a new method of assessing academic work. Yet this system poses new problems, focusing on surface popularity of research, increasingly designed to pop-up in Google Scholar, Academia, and other algorithmic search engines. When careers are assessed on such popularity, content is largely overlooked and is replaced by reach, without questioning the value of such audiences and their responses to this work. We survey different global attempts to utilize such assessment schemes, from the Netherlands to China, and suggest potential ameliorative paths forward.

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.

Neubert and Reich – Technologies and Sustainability: Challenges for Democracy and Education in Our Time

Stefan Neubert

University of Cologne

Kersten Reich

University of Cologne

In this essay, we will discuss some urgent challenges for democracy and education in the Deweyan sense in connection with current developments of technologies and questions of sustainability. After a short introduction, we will proceed in four major parts. In doing so, we follow the systematic distinction of four mutually interrelated levels of technologies in culture found in the late work of Michel Foucault. In part 1 of our essay, we focus on the technologies of production. We connect Foucault’s perspective with more recent research on questions of social inequality and the production and distribution of wealth, e.g., the great divide between rich and poor that Joseph Stiglitz has examined in much of his recent work. We discuss implications for questions of sustainability in the world of today and draw conclusions as to urgent democratic and educational challenges in our time.

In part 2, we address the level of technologies of sign systems. Proceeding in a similar way as in the first part, we connect Foucault’s perspective with a more recent critical approach, namely the theory of surveillance capitalism launched by Shoshana Zuboff. We consider implications for sustainability and draw conclusions for democracy and education.

In part 3, we turn to the level of technologies of power and domination. We use Colin Crouch’s critical approach to post-democracy in order to examine some crucial dangers for democracy involved in prevailing economic and political relations, practices and structures that tend to undermine the effectiveness of democratic institutions and procedures. Again, we consider implications for sustainability and draw conclusions for democracy and education.

In part 4, we look at the level of technologies of the self. We consider connections with contemporary constructivist as well as Deweyan perspectives in education that emphasize the role of relationships and processes of social self-creation. Once more, we elaborate on some crucial implications for sustainability and draw conclusions for democracy and education. The essay closes with a summary of the most important conclusions of our discussion.

Pezzano – The Inclusive Model of School Based on Hickman’s Idea of Technological Culture

Teodora Pezzano

University of Calabria

Larry Hickman’s  work has been fundamental for Deweyan Scholarship and also for the idea of a new possible paradigm of a “technological culture.” In this paper I will try to  focus on the idea expressed in chapter 5, titled “Tecnoscience Education for a Life-long Curriculum, in  Hickman’s book Philosophical Tools for Technological Culture: Putting Pragmatism to Work (2001) applied to the contemporary problem of the school.

In particular Hickman’s idea of technological culture, inspired by Dewey’s Thought, is essential for the concept of an inclusive model of school, which is a development of democratic school theorized by Dewey during his university  experience in Chicago. In this perspective I will analyze Hickman’s idea of technological culture applied to education, the centrality of education in democratic theory of John Dewey, and the inclusive model of contemporary school which must be based on the humanistic culture and digital cultural.