Spinozalens, een onderscheiding voor 
denkers over ethiek

Laureate 2020

Bruno Latour

1947

Bruno Latour is one of the first thinkers to have considered technology as a social factor. According to Latour, technology, like science, is not morally neutral. Not only are users responsible for the technology they choose, but creators and producers also have a certain moral responsibility. During the early 1990s Latour was also one of the first thinkers to discuss the topic of sustainability.

 

The notion that nature has a voice of its own that needs to be heard in a modern democratic society is one of Latour’s most innovative thoughts, which has resulted in a completely different relationship to plants, animals and everything that is not human.

For Latour, philosophy is thinking in interaction. He leaves the ivory tower of academia and commits himself to empiricism. As a result, his thought has made a huge impact, not only on technology, but on other areas such as anthropology, education and art (history and theory). Latour regularly speaks out on current affairs, be it the climate crisis, COVID-19 or international politics.

 

Criticism has also been levelled against his ideas, particularly against his constructivism, the construction of scientific facts. According to Latour, these are always influenced by the background and values of scientists. His critics however claim that this idea paints science in a bad light, and some of them therefore regard him as a relativist.

Latour has distanced himself from such criticism. In his book Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime (Polity Press, 2018), he articulates his constructivism as follows: the truth is only true if it can function as truth, and that’s a hard thing to do! He formulates this thought by focusing on world leaders such as such as Trump, Putin and Bolsonaro.

 

Other recent works by Latour include Reset Modernity! (MIT Press, 2016) and Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime (Polity Press, 2017). See his website http://www.bruno-latour.fr/. , available in English and French for more information.

 


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