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A Companion to the Philosophy of Technology by Vincent F. Hendricks, Stig Andur Pedersen, Jan Kyrre Berg Olsen Friis

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Boundary-work

The different ways to handle the tension between diversity and sustainability mentioned so far boil down to the search for a new unity, and to the limitation and finally to the elimination of political, ideological and scientific diversity. They all turned out to be blind alleys: the striving for one single world community without borders is as unrealistic as the striving for one single metaphysical worldview or the appeal to science as the sole arbitrator with whom all parties should comply. But, if we abandon all efforts to reduce or eliminate diversity once and for all, and if we acknowledge plurality without any reservations, then the question of the possibilities for cooperation for a sustainable management of natural resources becomes all the more urgent.

A promising answer to this question is “boundary-work,” i.e. the constructive effort to support communication and coordination across the fences that separate communities. Here one can take inspiration from philosophical pragmatism and from scientific disciplines that are strongly influenced by philosophical pragmatism like Public Policy Studies and Science and Technology Studies. This should not come as a surprise because, from the start, pragmatism has promoted the issues of communication and collaboration under pluralist conditions to key issues. Three pragmatic methods of boundary work will be discussed in some detail: the overcoming of dualisms by gradualization, the transformation of problematic situations ...

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