Philosophy 150: Nature, Technology, and Society

Schedule of Assignments, Hettinger, Spring 2013


1.         Jan 10: Introduction

            1.         “78 Reasonable Questions to Ask about Any Technology,” from Stephanie Mills, ed., Turning Away from Technology (Sierra Club Books, Copyright by Stephanie Mills, 1997)


2.         Jan 15: Langdon Winner, “Technology as Forms of Life,” originally from Cohen and Wartofsky, eds., Epistemology, Method and the Social Sciences (D Reidel 1983); reprinted in and copied from David Kaplan, ed., Readings in the Philosophy of Technology (Rowman and Littlefield, 2004), pp. 103-113

3.         Jan 17: Theodore Roszak, “Foreword: In Defense of the Living Earth,” pp. vii-xi from Stephanie Mills, ed., Turning Away from Technology


4.         Jan 22: Two articles

            1.         Paul Shephard, Preface to The Only World We’ve Got (Sierra Club Books, 1996; Paul Shepard, Copyright 1996), pp. ix-xx

            2.         Jared Diamond, “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race," Discover (May 1987)

Luddism Examined

5.         Jan 24: Two readings

            1.         Wendell Berry, “Why I’m Not Going to Buy a Computer” Harpers 1987

            2.         Wendell Berry, “Feminism, the Body, and the Machine” 2002

(For related material, See also Matthew Crawford “The Case for Working With Your Hands” and Review of Crawford’s Shop Craft as Soul Craft on class webpage)

6.         Jan 29: Samuel Florman, “In Praise of Technology” (from Florman’s Existential Pleasures of Engineering, 1975 St. Martin’s Press) copied from Controlling Technology, ed. by William B. Thompson (Prometheus,1991), pp. 148-156

7.         Jan 31: Dan Lyons, "Are Luddites Confused?" Inquiry 22: 381-403 (1979)

8.         Feb 5: Potential visit by Kirkpatrick Sale and associated readings on webpage


Information Technology

9.         Feb 7: Multiple readings

            1.         David Ehrenfeld, “Pseudocommunities,” pp. 51-58 from Becoming Good Ancestors: How we Balance Nature, Community and Technology (2009)

            2.         Is Google Making Us Stupid?

            3.         Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction

            4.         University Declares Week w/o Social Media

            5.         So Much For Bowling Alone: Research Says Internet Users Are Socially Engaged

Food and Biotechnology

10.       Feb 12: Barbara Kingsolver, “A Fist in the Eye of God,” From Small Wonders (Perennial, 2003)

Synthetic Biology 

11.       Feb 14: Christopher Preston, “Synthetic Biology: Drawing a Line in Darwinʼs Sand,” Environmental Values 17 (2008): 23–39

Cloning and Enhancing Human Beings

12.       Feb 19: Leon R. Kass, “The Wisdom of Repugnance,” New Republic, June 2, 1997

13.       Feb 21: Dan Brock, “Cloning Human Beings: An Assessment of the Ethical Issues Pro and Con,” in Clones and Clones: Facts and Fantasies About Human Cloning, eds. M. Nussbaum and C. Sunstein (New York: W. W. Norton, 1998)”

14.       Feb 26: Michael J. Sandel, “The Case Against Perfection: What's Wrong with Designer Children, Bionic Athletes, and Genetic Engineering

            1.         Additional readings on human enhancement

                        1.         Sara Goering, “The Ethics of Making the Body Beautiful: What Cosmetic Genetics Can Learn from Cosmetic Surgery,” Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly, Volume 21, Number 1 (Winter 2001)

                        2.         David Wasserman, "Performance-Enhancing Technologies and the Values of Athletic Competition" Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly Volume 28, Number 3/4, Summer/Fall 2008

                        3.         Claudia Mills, “One Pill Makes You Smarter: An Ethical Appraisal of Rise of Ritalin,” Report from the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, Volume18, Number 4 (Fall 1998): 13-17

                        4.         Julian Savulescu, “Unfit for the Future: The Need for Moral Enhancement”

15.       Feb 28: MIDTERM EXAM

Spring Break


16.       Mar 12: Christopher J. Preston (2012): Beyond the End of Nature: SRM and Two Tales of Artificity for the Anthropocene, Ethics, Policy & Environment, 15:2, 188-201


17.       Mar 14: Robert Elliott, “Faking Nature” (in William Throop, Environmental Restoration: Ethics, Theory, and Practice, 71-82)

18.       Mar 19: Ned Hettinger, “Nature Restoration as a Paradigm for the Human Relationship with Nature”

19.       Mar 21: Eric Katz, “Further Adventures in the Case against Restoration,” Environmental Ethics 34 (Spring 2012)

20.       Mar 26: Stephanie Ross “Paradoxes and Puzzles: Appreciating Gardens and Urban Nature,” Volume 4 (2006) Contemporary Aesthetics

21.       Mar 28: Ronald Sandler “Global Warming and Virtues of Ecological Restoration,” in Allen Thompson and Jeremy Benkik-Keymer, eds., Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change (MIT 2012)

Friday, March 29, Paper proposal due, by email to

22.       Apr 2: Allen Thompson, “Responsibility for the End of Nature: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Global Warming,” Ethics and the Environment 79, 1: 79-99.

23.       Apr 4: Ned Hettinger, “Valuing Naturalness in the Anthropocene: Now More than Ever” (draft)

            a.         Marris, E., Kareiva, P., Mascaro, J., and Ellis, E. (2011). “Hope in Age of Man” New York Times (op ed) December 7.


24.       Apr 9: Videos: Affluenza and Growth Busters

25.       Apr 11: Peter Wenz, “Personal Choices, Consumerism, and Human Nature” from Environmental Ethics Today (2001)

Monday, April 15, Paper Due, 3pm, paper copy, 14 Glebe inside mailbox

26.       Apr 16: Two readings

            a.         Jerome Segal, “Are We Simple Creatures?” Philosophy & Public Policy 19 2/3: Spring/Summer 1999, pp. 14-18

            b.         Judith Litchenberg, “Consuming Because Others Consume,” from “The Ethics of Consumption” Philosophy and Public Policy 15,4 Fall 1995, pp. 23-27

            c.         Video: The Story of Stuff

27.       Apr 18: Juliet Schor, 2 readings

            a.         Juliet Schor, “Clothes Encounters” Orion September/October 2004, p. 11

            b.         Juliet Schor, “Tackling Turbo Consumption: An Interview with Juliet Schor” from Soundings 2006

28.       Apr 23: Two articles

            a.         David Orr, “The Designer’s Challenge” (commencement address at University of Pennsylvania)

            b.         Carl Pope, “Let’s Get Technical,” Sierra July/August 2005, pp. 10-11

Final Exam, Thursday, May 2nd, 12-3, in our class room