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Topics in Philosophy: Philosophy of Technology


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

  • History of Philosophy


The purpose of Topics in Philosophy courses is to allow students to focus on specific philosophical sub-fields. From year to year, the subtitle can shift as the course addresses different topics. In this particular offering, we will be reading about and discussing some major issues in the philosophy of technology. To begin with, we must consider the nature or essence of technology, an issue that can be traced back to the early days of philosophy. One of the more influential “recent” attempts to tackle this issue is Martin Heidegger’s The Question Concerning Technology, which also offers an interesting challenge to the common (and uncritical) view of technology as largely beneficial to humans. Along these lines, participants in this course will ponder the ways major technological advances have altered human society and physiology, for better and worse, and might continue to do so in the future. In conjunction with these larger upheavals, we will look closely at specific practical/ethical conundrums related to various emerging and speculative technologies such as AI, cryonics, deepfakes, suicide capsules, nanotechnology, and cyborgization.

Course Objectives

This course aims to investigate philosophical ideas and texts related to technology in general and certain emerging technologies in particular. Students will be expected to compare, contrast, and critically discuss the main issues and arguments in the classroom and in their written work.

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • details relevant to the course theme and the historical context of the texts, ideas, issues, and events studied;

  • practical problems related to certain emerging technologies.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • formulate their own rational position on the topics covered in this course;

  • critically reflect on and distinguish between key types of philosophical argumentation;

  • exhibit a set of reading, writing, research, and discussion skills that allow them to engage texts and other people in an informed and conscientious manner.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2023-2024 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

Each ordinary meeting of the course will consist of an interactive discussion on the scheduled topic, with reading to be completed prior to the meeting. This course depends heavily on group discussion of significant primary texts. Each class will begin with the instructor introducing the key issues and readings for that day and offering an interpretation of the works being discussed. Students should join in the discussion at any time, asking questions, making suggestions, or making comparisons with other texts we have read. For each meeting, each student should mark out a short passage (1-3 sentences) from the day’s reading that especially stood out.

Assessment Method

  • Participation and attentiveness in class discussions, 19%

  • Short written reflections on the readings (1200-1600 words total), 16%

  • One short answer and/or essay “mid-term” exercise, 25%

  • One final paper (during reading week), 40%

Reading list

Required readings will be available for free online, primarily through the Leiden University Library website.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Adam Buben,