The Ambiguity of Technoscience: From Phenomenotechnique to Design Science

01 October 2019 → 14 August 2022
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
No data available
Technoscience design science science studies
Project description

The 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to work on ‘directed evolution’. The latter is not a new theory or discovery, but a technique to let natural selection shape proteins for us. Advances such as these are often claimed to indicate a bigger shift from science to ‘technoscience’: that is, from describing the world to actively shaping it. With this shift, the line between science and technology becomes blurred.

However, if the concept of ‘technoscience’ wants to grasp the novelty of recent scientific disciplines, it has to address a fundamental ambiguity that remains in the literature. ‘Technoscience’ either refers to a historical shift from science to technoscience, where the blurring happens only in the latter, or it means that all sciences have always been technologically shaping the world, a fact that only now is being realized. According to the latter view, recent technosciences are therefore not unusual.

My project aims to show that both perspectives need not be mutually exclusive. Firstly, this will be done by showing how different perspectives on the technological aspect of science inspired these two interpretations of technoscience. The second part of the project develops this combined framework through the case studies of synthetic biology and data science. I will defend the thesis that although both earlier sciences and technosciences are technologically shaping the world, the latter are characterized by the novelty of their ‘design approach’.