Course Syllabus

Philosophy of Technology and Human Values 

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Semester & Location:

 Spring 2024- DIS Stockholm

Type & Credits:

Elective Course - 3 credits

Major Disciplines:

Philosophy, Ethics

Faculty Member:

Jan Holmgaard - (current students please use the Canvas Inbox) 

Academic Support:

Time & Place:

Tuesdays & Fridays, 8:30 - 9:50 | Room 1D-410

Course Description

In our age, it is undeniable that human beings are technological creatures. Techné, that is, artful craftsmanship, has increasingly been enhancing our experiences, fulfilling our desires, and broadening our abilities, both on a large scale and in the daily lives of individuals. Do we control technology or does it control us? Is technology part of nature or an instrument to human ends? How can we respond critically to the use and development of technology? In this course, we examine such pressing questions from specifically Scandinavian, ethical, social, environmental, and philosophical perspectives.

Learning Objectives

Among the goals of this course are to: (1) gain a philosophical understanding of the role of technology in the human drama, specifically as an ethical category; (2) relate our own particular lived experiences to universal philosophical concepts that illuminate the human relationship to technology; (3) acquire skills in navigating challenging philosophical texts; (4) gain abilities in nuancing and articulating justifications for our own views; and (5) develop methodological tools for contributing to thought and action related to the place of technology in today’s world.


Jan Holmgaard, PhD in Comparative Literature, Stockholm University. Associate Professor at the Department of Culture and Aesthetics, Stockholm University. Formerly visiting researcher at Oxford University and The Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre, Copenhagen University. Teaches literature and philosophy at DIS Stockholm. With DIS since 2017.



Ide, Don. Technology and the Lifeworld: From Garden to Earth (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990).

Texts on Canvas

  • Jean Baudrillard’s “The Precession of the Simulacra” in Simulacra and Simulation (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan 1994).
  • Nick Bostrom, Superintelligence (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016) (excerpts)
  • Gilles Deleuze&Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (London: Continuum 2009), pp. 504-507.
  • Hubert L. Dreyfus’s “Anonymity versus Commitment: The Dangers of Education on the Internet” Educational Philosophy and Theory 34 (2002).
  • Hubert L. Dreyfus’ “Heidegger on Gaining a Free Relationship to Technology: What Heidegger is Not Saying,” in Readings in the Philosophy of Technology (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004).
  • Hubert L. Dreyfus’ On the Internet (New York: Routledge, 2001), pp 49-71, pp 72-88.
  • Jacques Ellul’s The Technological Society (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1964), pp 3-22.
  • Michel Foucault’s “The Eye of Power,” in Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings (New York: Pantheon, 1980).
  • Jürgen Habermas’ “An Argument against Human Cloning,” in The PostNational Constellation: Political Essays (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001).
  • Katherine Hayles, How We Became Posthumans, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999) (excerpts)
  • Martin Heidegger’s “The Question Concerning Technology,” in Basic Writings (New York: Harper & Row, 1977).
  • James Hughes’ “Contradictions from the Enlightenment Roots of Transhumanism,” Journal of Medicine & Philosophy 35 (2010).
  • Don Ihde, Heidegger´s Technologies (Fordham University Press 2010) (excerpts)
  • Jaron Lanier, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Account Right Now (London: Random House, 2019) (excerpts)
  • Bryan Pfaffenberger’s “Social Anthropology of Technology,” Annual Review of Anthropology: Vol. 21 (1992).
  • John Durham Peters, "God and Google", The Marvelous Clouds (Chicaco, The University of Chicago Press 2015), pp 315-346.
  • Evi Sampanikou, "Misunderstandings around Posthumanism," Journal of Poshumanism: vol 3, no 2, (2023), pp 131-138.
  • Bernard Stiegler´s Technics and Time 1, (Stanford, Stanford University Press 1998), pp 1-19
  • Ellen Ullman’s Close to the Machine: On Technophilia and its Discontents (New York: Farar, Strauss & Giroux, 2012), pp 1-16, pp 17-38.
  • Slavoj Zizek’s “Of Cells and Selves,” in The Zizek Reader (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009).

Approach to Teaching

I believe that teaching is a passion. Each session, seminar or lecture is an opportunity not only to present facts, knowledge, and analytical perspectives, but to engage in dialogue with students on important literary, ideological, cultural, and existential questions and topics. I always encourage students to challenge themselves and to engage in critical thinking, whereby preconceived ideas and one´s own prejudices are questioned and put into context.

Expectations of Students

Students are expected to have done the reading for each class and to come prepared with notes and questions for the class to discuss. Engaged participation is part of the evaluation and grading of the course. It also makes the sessions so much more interesting and versatile. It is vital that the students engage in an ongoing critical dialogue based on the required texts. Engaged participation is also extended to include an oral presentation in class. Furthermore, students are expected to develop their writing abilities and their analytical approach to literature. During the course, students are expected to hand in two papers, as well as a final paper.


Students will be evaluated based on overall acquired skills, from demonstrating a basic understanding of facts and knowledge, over a comprehensive understanding of philosophical and theoretical concepts and contexts, to a fully developed critical approach to important and complex philosophical questions dealing with technology and human values. Students will be evaluated based on the following: the engaged participation in class, the oral presentation in class, two written assignments, and the final paper.


Participation 10%

The student is expected to attend all sessions, to come prepared for each session, and to participate actively in all discussions during class.

Oral presentation/workshop 20%

Each student will participate in a group presentation to be held towards the end of the course. Instructions will follow.

Paper 1 35%

The student is expected to write an essay (4-5 pages) on a major theme from the first part of the course. Further instructions will appear as the assignment is handed out.

Paper 2 35%

The student is expected to write a second essay (4-5 pages) on a major theme  from the second or third part of the course. Further instructions will appear as the assignment is handed out.


Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on: 


DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -


Course Summary:

Date Details Due