The impact of technological change on moral virtues

Pursell's argument | Postman's argument | Pacey's warnings

Terms | Richard Arwright

Tool complexes can disturb | landscape changes | value | tulips


Between 1790 and 1890 pastoral & agrarian values gave way to urban and industrial mores throughout Western Europe and America:

Technology is not so obviously simple to explain because the tools and related tool complexes that make up the hard guts of technology are hidden from our view. We do not perceive


Pacey says it has dimensions and Pursell says that it has changed its meaning and identification with powerful people over time.

Pursell says technology is complicated because it has three related characteristics that influences inventions, use, dispersal and changes in certain toolsreference pages

Examples of complexity
reason for complexity tool complexes and triggers of change

Problem Solving


What do these mean?

the coming together of related tools or ideas related to tool use to form a new technology altogether.

Problem Solving
“Standardization is the solution of last resort, an admission that we cannot solve the problem in any other way.” page 137.
can include exaptation or the coming together of very different technical artifacts, practices or ideas, hence the use of a tool originally intended for one purpose to solve a totally different problem.

the influence that tool use has on people, places, other things and our perception.
this includes Pacey’s dimensions of technology practice and experience (p. 8).



The means adopted to produce the technology, techniques to use and implement the tools and the behavior required in order to make tools bring about the desired results.

technology in 1615, & science in 1660 did not refer then to what they refer to today.
page 121.

“Scientific Progress”
In hypothesizing about ties of science and technology, Pursell detects an inversion in the meanings of technology and science from 400 yer ago until today.

ETYMOLOGICAL confusion bewtween
words Technology Science
Then: 1615 1660
  discourse on the arts trained skill required TRADE or CRAFT
Mid 19th century: useful arts natural history and philosophy
And Now: Applied science knowledge of natural laws
  Practical use of discoveries means of discovering new knowledge

p. 121.

“the power to define is the power to control” because the arrangement of words is deeply POLITICAL

error 3: science as seed from where Technology grows

Hypothesis number one, I. Science and technology separate

ANTIQUITY – mind versus hands to do work

p. 120

Hypothesis number two, II.
Science and Technology always intimately related

p. 120


Note that Daedalus, was the artful craftsman of Greek legend who built the Labyrinth of Maze at Knosses in Crete, he represents the knowing hand united with the able mind.

Only in 19th century did change emerge between TOOLS as a means to know the world and the alternative MEANS OF KNOWING by only reading about the world.

Pursell, pp. 118-143.

    Tools of Toil: what to read.
    Tools are historical building blocks of technology.