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24 February 2023, PEPTalks, Sadjad Soltanzadeh

Speaker: Sadjad Soltanzadeh
Title: PEPTalk #16: From Metaphysics to Ethics, Design and Regulation
Date: Friday 24 February 2023
Time: 12:00-13:00
Location: Online via Zoom


We categorise our reality into humans and non-humans, planets and dwarf planets, black and white chess squares or schools and military bases. Categorisations provide tools for us to make sense of our world and evaluate our decisions and actions. We do things with and to categorisations in a similar sense that we do things with and to technologies. But what makes a categorisation useful? And how can we construct useful categorisations?

Analytic methods have generated several categorisations and distinctions in different branches of the metaphysics of technology, but most of these have little relevance for practical purposes and normative decision making. What makes some categorisations and distinctions practically and normatively irrelevant is the fundamental philosophical approach that has generated them. An alternative, practically useful philosophical approach, named activity realism, takes the usefulness of technologies as its starting point, and generates practically and normatively useful categorisations and distinctions. In an activity realist philosophy, useful categorisations are temporal and depend on entities' role in, and impact on, activities of reflective beings.

In this talk, Sadjad Soltanzadeh will give an overview of the activity realist approach and show how it can be practically and normatively useful for the design and regulation of socio-technical systems. The talk will be mostly based on the book that he published last year, entitled Problem-Solving Technologies: A User-Friendly Philosophy.

For more information, see For the zoom link, please get in touch with Aybüke Özgün via

Please note that this newsitem has been archived, and may contain outdated information or links.