Changing Nature's Course: The Ethical Challenge of Biotechnology

By Gerhold K. Becker; James P. Buchanan | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Technology Assessment, Ethics
and Public Policy in Biotechnology:

The Case of the Human Genome Project

Joel Zimbelman

The Technological Imperative

Richard Tarnass suggests that Western culture is in large part defined by its inquisitiveness and its search for knowledge through the use of human cognitive faculties. 1 But the Western mind is also motivated by a humanistic impulse: the desire to 'sustain an ethos in which the purposive control of the natural environment for the attainment of . . . [human betterment] and productive knowledge has been considered an appropriate human activity'. 2 Numerous philosophical and religious writers have reflected on the relationship that holds between human beings and their use of tools. 3Homo sapiens (mind maker) has always been homo faber (tool maker). But this ability at technological innovation at times has unreflectively expressed itself. In the recent history of the West, one important manifestation of this uncritical attitude has been the acceptance and ultimate dominance of the technological imperative in guiding much social activity: 'If something is technologically feasible, it is desirable'. In the technological imperative, the possibility of technological progress establishes or implies a self-authenticating moral mandate to undertake that task. A society that embodies the technological imperative possesses a surprisingly upbeat assessment of technology in general and its ability to provide the specific means by which human beings, their history, and their cultures can be transformed for the better. The technological imperative is essentially the product of a progressivist philosophy. From this perspective, technological advances are ontological advances that empower human beings to become what they are supposed to be. The technological imperative assumes that the ability and wisdom exists in individuals, but also


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Changing Nature's Course: The Ethical Challenge of Biotechnology
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 208

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?