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The Platform for the Ethics and Politics of Technology organises a PEPTalk on problem-solving technologies, featuring featuring Sadjad Soltanzadeh. The PEPTalk will be moderated by Aybüke Özgün.
Event details of PEPTalk #16: From Metaphysics to Ethics, Design and Regulation
24 February 2023
12:00 -13:00

For the Zoom link, please send an email to

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.


Sadjad Soltanzadeh is a postdoctoral researcher in Philosophy and Ethics of Technology at the Asser Institute, Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam. Sadjad has a multidisciplinary background in philosophy, mechanical engineering and education, and has experienced diverse workplace and academic environments in Australia, Iran and the Netherlands.

Aybüke Özgün is an Assistant Professor of Responsible and Ethical AI at the University of Amsterdam and the Institute for Logic, Language, and Computation. She completed a joint PhD degree in Logic and Computer Science at the University of Amsterdam and the University of Lorraine.