The Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics has mhad multiple origins. It was when contributing an article on the philosophy of technology to the pioneering first edition of the Encyclopedia of Bioethics (1978), that I began to dream of a more general encyclopedic introduction to issues of technology and ethics. Inspired by the perspective of scholars as diverse as Jacques Ellul and Hans Jonas, bioethics appeared only part of a comprehensive need to grapple intellectually with the increasingly technological world in which we live. This idea was pursued in a state of-the-field chapter on ‘‘Philosophy of Technology’’ in A Guide to the Culture of Science, Technology, and Medicine (1980) edited by one of my mentors, Paul T. Durbin. Thus when Stephen G. Post, the editor of the third edition of the Encyclopedia of Bioethics (2004), suggested to Macmillan the idea of a more general ‘‘Encyclopedia of Technoethics,’’ with me as potential editor, I was primed to be enthusiastic— although I also argued that the field should now be expanded to include ethics in relation to both science and technology.
A high-school attraction to philosophy as critical reflection on how best to live had early morphed into the critical assessment of scientific technology. In contemporary historical circumstances, what has a more pervasive influence on the way we live than modern technology? My initial scholarly publications thus sought to make philosophy and technology studies a respected dimension of the academic world. Over the course of my curriculum vitae this concern further broadened to include science, technology, and society (STS) studies. Given the narrow specializations of professional philosophy, STS seemed better able to function as a home base for philosophy of technology. In fact, in the mid-1980s, George Bugliarello, George Schillinger, and I (all colleagues at Brooklyn Polytechnic University) made a proposal to Macmillan Reference for an Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Society.’’ That proposal was declined, but a version eventually found truncated expression in The Reader’s Adviser, 14th edition, vol. 5, The Best in Science, Technology, and Medicine (1994), co-edited with William F. Williams, a colleague at Pennsylvania State University, where I served for a period during the 1990s as director of the Science, Technology, and Society Program. Thus when the opportunity arose to edit an encyclopedia on science, technology, and ethics, I also wanted not to limit such a reference work to ethics in any narrow sense.
Other associations that broadened my perceptions in both philosophy and STS in ways that have found modest reflections here should also be mentioned. One was the collegiality of two professional associations, the Society for the Philosophy of Technology (founded 1980) and the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (founded 1991), with members from both becoming contributors. Service as a member of the Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1994–2000, was one of the most professionally rewarding experiences of my career, and contributed its own perspective. Finally, the critical fellowship of Ivan Illich introduced me to friends and ideas with whom I might not always agree though they seldom failed to inspire.