The Sceptical Optimist: Why technology isnt the answer to everything

Hardcover | June 30, 2015

byNicholas Agar

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The rapid developments in technologies -- especially computing and the advent of many 'smart' devices, as well as rapid and perpetual communication via the Internet -- has led to a frequently voiced view which Nicholas Agar describes as 'radical optimism'. Radical optimists claim thataccelerating technical progress will soon end poverty, disease, and ignorance, and improve our happiness and well-being. Agar disputes the claim that technological progress will automatically produce great improvements in subjective well-being. He argues that radical optimism 'assigns totechnological progress an undeserved pre-eminence among all the goals pursued by our civilization'. Instead, Agar uses the most recent psychological studies about human perceptions of well-being to create a realistic model of the impact technology will have. Although he accepts that technological advance does produce benefits, he insists that these are significantly less than those proposed bythe radical optimists, and aspects of such progress can also pose a threat to values such as social justice and our relationship with nature, while problems such as poverty cannot be understood in technological terms. He concludes by arguing that a more realistic assessment of the benefits thattechnological advance can bring will allow us to better manage its risks in future.

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From the Publisher

The rapid developments in technologies -- especially computing and the advent of many 'smart' devices, as well as rapid and perpetual communication via the Internet -- has led to a frequently voiced view which Nicholas Agar describes as 'radical optimism'. Radical optimists claim thataccelerating technical progress will soon end povert...

Nicholas Agar is Reader in Philosophy at Victoria University. He has spent much of his academic career writing about ethical and philosophical issues that arise in connection with new technologies.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:224 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.98 inPublished:June 30, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198717059

ISBN - 13:9780198717058

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Table of Contents

1. Challenging technological progress2. An interest in and a focus on technological progress3. Is there a law of technological progress?4. How individuals adapt to technological progress5. The disappointing effects of technological progress on average well-being6. The disappointing effects of technological progress on average well-being7. Why golden rice is a bad solution to vitamin A deficiency8. A plea for experiments in technological progress9. How valuable is technological progress really?ReferencesIndex