Department of Humanities and Social Sciences

Indian Institute of Technology Ropar

HSS Seminar

Technoscience and Values


Prof. Prajit. K Basu

November  13, 2017 (Monday) at  11:00 AM

Venue:  Conference Room  2


In this essay, I set out in a preliminary fashion what is already avaliable in the literature. The nature of technoscience as opposed to science or technology is briefly set out. I relate the nature of technoscience to the discussions set out in Bangalore Communique', a UNESCO effort to chart out a new Science – Society contract. Without making the connections point by point and exhaustive, I draw lessons about some of the values that inform the very nature of modern technoscience. I also enumerate a few examples of scientific practice, taken from the journal Science, which highlight the varieties of values that may and do impinge on scientific practices. In the next section, I highlight one of the moral underpinnings of the modern technoscientific practices. I suggest that this may be seen as a reversal of the deontological framework which suggests that 'ought implies can' to 'can implies permissible'. In the last section, I narrow down further to focus on how the determination of risk with respect to both development and deployment of new forms of techncosciences, the example pursued here is nanotechnology, requires us to consider several values like consent, equity, justice. My specific argument is with respect to the value of consent to be obtained from the technology recipient while deploying a technology. I end by suggesting some further directions that I want to pursue if my earlier suggestions have some plausibiity.

Brief Bio-sketch of the speaker 

After completing his Ph.D in chemistry from IISc Bangalore, Prof. Basu started his academic career at IIT Bombay in the late 1980s where he taught chemistry. Subsequently, he developed a keen interest in humanities and received his second doctorate from the University of Iowa in the area of history and philosophy of Science. His thesis was on the historical and philosophical aspects of ‘chemical revolution’ of Seventeenth Century. In 1994, he joined the School of Humanities in University of Hyderabad. Currently, he is engaged in interdisciplinary research and teaching in three separate units of University of Hyderabad: the Department of Philosophy, the Centre for Neural and Cognitive Sciences and the Centre for Knowledge Culture and Innovation Studies.