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Individual Autonomy, Law and Technology: Should Soft Determinism Guide Legal Analysis?

Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society, Vol. 30, No. 1, p. 4, 2010

6 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2010  

Arthur J. Cockfield

Queen's University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

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.

Keywords: law, technology, cyberlaw, philosophy and law

JEL Classification: O30, O33, O38

Suggested Citation

Cockfield, Arthur J., Individual Autonomy, Law and Technology: Should Soft Determinism Guide Legal Analysis? (2010). Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society, Vol. 30, No. 1, p. 4, 2010 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1582565

Arthur Cockfield (Contact Author)

Queen's University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Macdonald Hall
Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6 K7L3N6
Canada

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