In this new collection of essays, Andrew Feenberg argues that conflicts over the design and organization of the technical systems that structure our society are shaping deep choices for our future. A pioneer in the philosophy of technology, Feenberg demonstrates the continuing vitality of the critical theory of the Frankfurt School and calls into question the anti-technological stance commonly associated with its theoretical legacy. Technology need not always oppose human values, he claims. On the contrary, it contains potentialities that could be developed as the basis for an alternative form of modern society.
Entering into a dialogue with the ideas of Jurgen Habermas, Herbert Marcuse, Jean-Francois Lyotard, and Kitaro Nishida, Feenberg contests the prevailing conception of technology as an unstoppable force responsive only to its own internal dynamic. His argument is substantiated in a series of compelling and well-grounded case studies. He explores science fiction and film, AIDS research, the French experience with the "information superhighway," and the Japanese reception of Western values to show how technology, when subjected to public pressure and scrutiny, can respond to ethical and aesthetic criteria. Alternative Modernity lifts the debates surrounding the social and cultural construction of technology to a new level. It is certain to interest philosophers, social theorists, and cultural critics.