Technology and Human Development - A capability approach

Ilse Oosterlaken, VU University Amsterdam

This talk will introduce the capability approach – in which wellbeing, agency and justice are the core values – as a powerful normative lens to examine technology and its role in development. The capability approach attaches central moral importance to individual human capabilities, understood as effective opportunities people have to lead the kind of lives they have reason to value. I will discuss how it related to broader debates about technology and human development – discussing amongst others the appropriate technology movement. To deepen our understanding of the relation between technical artefacts and human capabilities, I will argue, we must simultaneously ‘zoom in’ on the details of technological design and ‘zoom out’ to see the broader socio-technical embedding of a technology.

About the speaker
Ilse Oosterlaken is currently a postdoc at the philosophy department of VU University Amsterdam. She received her doctoral degree cum laude from the philosophy department of Delft University of Technology. Her fortcoming book Technology and Human Development (Routlegde, May 2015, is based on her doctoral dissertation on the capability approach, technology and design. She has a mixed educational background in philosophy, the social sciences and engineering.

Venue: Conference room

Date: 30 April 2015

Time: 12:30 - 13:30