The Human/Non-Human Imbalance in Science and Technology Studies: From Anathema to Exegesis.

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:30
Location: Hörsaal 18 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Aristeidis PANAGIOTOU, HAEF, Greece
The human/non-human distinction lies at the very heart of Science and Technology Studies. Nonetheless, there is little consensus as to how the two should be ontologically classified. Humanist accounts tend to ascribe to humans quasi-Promethean powers and downplay the significance of non-humans, while post-humanist narrations tend to conflate the two into a hybrid terminology. In this presentation I will critically examine how the human/non-human distinction is conceptualized in STS and argue that both voluntaristic and conflationist exegeses are equally unsatisfactory. By arguing that the human/non-human distinction should not be transcended, but should be sustained as an ontologically sound distinction, I will offer a different approach to the problematic by bringing closer together Ted Benton’s ontological naturalism and Rob Stones’ Strong Structuration Theory (SST). The presentation will argue that humans and non-humans should be placed in their broader social and natural environments and be embedded on a continuum where the relations between them are examined. SST will be suggested as a theory of action which can accommodate both humans and non-humans and can enable the researcher to perform hermeunetic and structural analyses. Specific examples which demonstrate the heuristic value of such an approach will be used.