Technological Medicine and the Autonomy of Man
Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 2002; 5(2): 157-167
Is technology value-free or is it value-laden? How does technology affect human autonomy? These questions, viewed within the context of medicine, are the focus of attention in this article. The central argument is that we need neither to subscribe to the value-neutrality dictum nor to the all-encompassing value- ladenness thesis to explain the pertinent position of technology in medicine. Technology is constitutive of and strongly implicated in difficult questions of value. This, however, does not mean that technology is identical to (or neutral to) these value-laden questions. Technology poses issues of value, but only some of these relate to technology qua technology. Hence, it makes a difference whether we discuss general questions of value posed by technology or whether we discuss the value-ladenness of technology. Admitting technological value-ladenness does not imply that we are subject to a technological imperative that reduces our autonomy, on the contrary, it explains how technology increases our responsibility. This is particularly prominent in medicine.
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