Knowledge as Duty: Lorenzo Magnani’s Website
"...morality is distributed in our technological world in a way that makes some scientific problems particularly relevant to ethics. [...] One solution, I believe, is to re-examine the respect we have developed for particular externalities and then use those things as a vehicle to return value to people."
(L. Magnani, Morality in a technological World)

Sep '07

Morality in a Technological World

My book Morality in a Technological World. Knowledge as Duty (Cambridge University Press) is now available on Amazon and other leading bookstores.

Here’s the synopsis:

In the eighteenth century, Immanuel Kant held that we should regard other human beings as ends in themselves, never as mere means. In Knowledge as a Duty, however, Lorenzo Magnani contends that one of the best hopes for achieving social justice is to do exactly what Kant warned against: we must treat people as if they were things. By acknowledging the “thingness” of human beings, Magnani argues, we can learn to value people in important new ways and extend to them the kind of worth we have lavished on certain non-human entities. This shift in perspective, however, requires a great deal of new ethical knowledge as well as modern approaches to moral deliberation, and to achieve these goals Magnani provides compelling analyses of such problems and offers a variety of strategies we might use to solve them.
Viewing human beings through an updated moral framework is especially important given the profound changes that have occurred since Kant’s time, for modern technologies have brought about consequences of such magnitude that old policies and ethics can no longer contain them. Magnani believes that producing and applying recalibrated moral knowledge has become a duty, one that is just as important as making scientific or medical advances. Among the troubling issues he addresses here are cyberprivacy, globalization, bad faith, cloning, biotechnologies, and ecological imbalances; the right knowledge, Magnani maintains, can manage these challenges and counter many of technology’s ill effects by preserving ownership of our own destinies, encouraging responsibility, and enhancing freedom. Also discussed are how objects, structures, and technological artifacts serve as moral carriers and mediators; the problem of free will; and the nature of practical reasoning. Using an entirely new methodology that blends epistemology with cognitive science, Magnani seeks to overthrow some traditional philosophical perspectives that have become obsolete in today’s technological era.

More info at: CUP website

Italian Edition of the first two Chapters: Rispetta gli altri come cose, Il Melangolo, Genoa, 2013.

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Sep '07

Proceedings of the International Conference MBR06_CHINA

The Proceedings of the International Conference MBR06_CHINA, edited by L. Magnani and P. Li, is now available online on, and on and other international bookstores.

Here’s a passage from the Introduction:

The volume is based on the papers that were presented at the international conference Model-Based Reasoning in Science and Medicine (MBR’06 China), held at Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, P.R. China in July 2006. The presentations given at the conference explored how scientific thinking uses models and explanatory reasoning to produce creative changes in theories and concepts. Some addressed the problem of model-based reasoning in technology, and stressed the issue of technological innovation and medical reasoning. The various contributions of the book are written by interdisciplinary researchers who are active in the area of creative reasoning in science and technology: the most recent results and achievements about the topics above are illustrated in detail in the papers.

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