The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly

Volume 23, Issue 1, Spring 2023

Christopher M. Reilly
Pages 23-35

Technological Domination
Its Moral Significance in Bioethics

This essay argues that Catholic bioethicists and moral theologians need an expanded theology of technological or technical domination. It describes five variants of the concept: (1) domination of persons over others, (2) prideful assertion of mastery over nature, (3) ambition to usurp the will of God, (4) over-emphasis on technical solutions to human problems, and (5) an ideology of utility, efficiency, and effectiveness. It is argued, however, that a sixth variant is needed in regard to twenty-first century technologies. Dietrich von Hildebrand’s observations of “the useful” can be employed to show how the instrumental rationality of technologies often gains a false motivational force. This preference for utility is encouraged by the complex, opaque, and autonomous structures of contemporary technologies.