Publication Date

July 2005

Document Type

Conference Presentation


Paper presented at the "14th Biennial Conference of the Society for Philosophy and Technology," Delft, Netherlands (July 2005).


In this paper I argue that the goal of “democratizing technology” (as espoused by Feenberg, Winner, Sclove and others) must be linked to some kind of overarching norm or objective. That by itself, the apparently worthwhile aim of democratizing technological design is nebulous. [Is it the case that democratizing technology will necessarily lead to an overall improvement in the built environment? Obviously, this question raises a host of additional questions: How does one define “improvement”? Or, better for whom? And, who gets to decide these questions?] Although some democratic norms have been suggested, I will argue that the concept of “sustainability” offers the most viable meta-goal. The concept, however, must be redeemed from corporate capitalism who has co-opted it to justify virtually any kind development. Instead, a sound definition of “sustainability” should include democratically agreed on norms that any person interested in sustaining life on earth could agree to. And that, accepting this, democratizing technology would then serve to further this overarching goal.