Global Changes

Luca Valera: Centro de Bioética UC

Juan Carlos Castilla:

We live in an age of global changes. Such changes affect and inform the different aspects of our lives, both at the micro- (our everyday life) and at the macro-level (environmental, technological, climatic, and geographic changes).

The First Part of the present book analyzes some of these changes and tries to articulate new conceptual categories that could give us hermeneutic keys to understand the new context in which our actions take place.

First, the analysis underlines that we live in an environment that has changed radically and rapidly in the past 100–200 years. As a consequence, we live today in new environments, with which we interact at different levels (Chap. 2). The artificial environment is fused with the natural, so much so that the two dimensions appear today almost indistinguishable. This is a fundamental change analyzed in this First Part. “Technology” appears not just as a tool at our disposal, something “at hand”, but more deeply as a constitutive part of the environment in which we live (Chap. 4). Due to this change, the biosphere becomes unified to the infosphere: the exchanges between human beings and their environments are not made only of exchanges of biophysical material but also of information and communication.

The technological change of the environment generates a second important, ethical, modification: the “old” deontology (“ethics of the environment”) is no longer capable of accounting for the new relations between human beings and environment that are established at different levels. For this reason, it becomes necessary to move to a relational ethics (“ethics in the environment”) (Chap. 2). This ethical model faces an unprecedented situation for humanity, a situation in which one cannot accept the new technological scenario uncritically (Chap. 3) but submits it to philosophical scrutiny.

Another scenario of complex changes in technological civilization in which we live concerns human action: the new technologies bring new “hybrid” forms of action. The human being does not simply act through a technological medium but interacts with technologies: these “function” independently from the human being and the action becomes in a certain sense interaction, that is, an “acting with” (Chap. 4). The outcome is a third radical scenario of changes: actions become “shared”.