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Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology

Volume 23, Issue 1, 2019

Jonathan Simon
Pages 51-67
DOI: 10.5840/techne201951395

The Medical Drug as a Technological Object

This article considers the medical drug as a technological object, in order to determine what philosophy of technology can bring to the study of pharmaceuticals and what the study of medical drugs can bring to the philosophy of technology. This approach will allow us to locate the differences between the medical drug and other objects that usually form the focus for studies in the philosophy of technology, and to discuss the problematic fit of the models proposed in the field to pharmaceuticals. After reflecting on the origins of this problem in both the philosophy of pharmacy and the philosophy of technology, I propose an examination of medical drugs using an analytical schema developed by Andrew Feenberg. I expose several shortcomings of this ‘post-phenomenological’ philosophy of technology applied to medical drugs. Despite the various problems identified, I nevertheless argue that the philosophy of technology is useful for thinking about medical drugs, particularly because of the emphasis it places on the social and political dimensions of technology. In conclusion, I argue in favour of a more open, eclectic philosophical engagement with medical drugs that puts more emphasis on their economic, social and political dimensions.

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