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Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology

Volume 21, Issue 2/3, 2017

Special Issue on the Anthropocene

Langdon Winner
Pages 282-294

Rebranding the Anthropocene
A Rectification of Names

Recent attempts to rename the geological epoch in which we live, now called the “Holocene,” have produced a number of impressive suggestions. Among these the leading contender at present is the “Anthropocene.” Despite its possible advantages, there are a number of reasons why this term is ultimately misleading and unhelpful in both philosophical and policy deliberations. Especially off-putting is the word’s tendency to identify the human species as a whole as the culprit in controversial changes in Earth’s biosphere whose proximate sources can be more accurately identified. The new candidate term echoes discussions of “Man and . . .” in countless twentieth-century publications, an outmoded conceit rightly overcome in more recent writings on science, technology and society.

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