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Technological Determinism

  • By: Bill Kte'pi
  • In: Green Technology: An A-to-Z Guide
  • Edited by: Dustin Mulvaney
  • Subject:Environmental Sciences (general), Environmental Technology, Policy & Management

A term originally coined by sociologist Thorstein Veblen in the early 20th century and later expanded on and developed by his student Clarence Ayres, the theory of technological determinism states that a society's technology shapes—determines—its social and cultural institutions. It must be understood as part of the broader philosophical view of determinism—the idea that causality is so specific, the universe so orderly, that present and future outcomes of events are determined by prior states—that was so prevalent in the West at the time.

By the end of the 19th century, there was a sense of intellectual completion in the Western world. Modern psychiatry was in its infancy but implied the possibility of an understanding of the human mind. The theory of evolution, though it would be ...

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