Individual Autonomy, Law and Technology: Should Soft Determinism Guide Legal Analysis?
Arthur J. Cockfield
Queen's University - Faculty of Law
Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society, Vol. 30, No. 1, p. 4, 2010
This article was prepared for a symposium issue on the topic of ‘Individual Autonomy, Law and Technology.’ How one thinks about the relationship between individual autonomy (sometimes referred to as individual willpower or human agency) and technology can influence the way legal thinkers develop policy at the intersection of law and technology. Perspectives that fall toward the ‘machines control us’ end of the spectrum may support more interventionist legal policies while those who identify more closely with the ‘we are in charge of machines’ position may refuse to interfere with technological developments. The concept of soft determinism charts a middle-ground between these two positions and could assist in the formulation of a general theory of the relationship between law and technology. Soft determinism maintains that technological developments are embedded in social, political, economic and other processes, and serve to guide and, potentially, configure future actions and relationships with these technologies, but individuals and groups can still exert control over technological developments.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 6
Keywords: law, technology, cyberlaw, philosophy and law
JEL Classification: O30, O33, O38
Date posted: April 4, 2010