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Ethics for a Digital Age, Vol. II

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Edited By Bastiaan Vanacker and Don Heider

The second volume of Ethics for a Digital Age contains a selection of research presented at the fifth and sixth Annual International Symposia on Digital Ethics hosted by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Communication. Thematically organized around the most pressing ethical issues of the digital age from a professional (parts one and two) and a philosophical perspective (part three), the chapters of this volume offer the reader a window into some of the hot-button ethical issues facing a society where digital has become the new normal. Just as was the case in the first volume, this collection attempts to bridge applied and theoretical approaches to digital ethics. The case studies in this work are grounded in theory and the theoretical pieces are linked back to specific cases, reflecting the multi-methodological and multi-disciplinarian approach espoused by Loyola’s Center of Digital Ethics and Policy during its eight years of existence. With contributions by experts from a variety of academic disciplines, this work will appeal to philosophers, communication scientists, and moral philosophers alike.

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10. Spatial Ethics and the Public Forum: Protecting the Process of Creating Public Space and Meaning (David S. Allen)

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10.  Spatial Ethics and the Public Forum: Protecting the Process of Creating Public Space and Meaning

DAVID S. ALLEN

Introduction

Citizens have long sought spaces to discuss the issues of the day (Inazu, 2015, p. 1165). From coffee houses to street corners, those spaces, whether public or private, have been viewed as being vital to democratic life. As histories of these spaces demonstrate, citizenship requires not only the passive reception of information, but also space for citizens to actively discuss and make sense of that information (e.g., Carp, 2007; Habermas, 1989b; and Wallace, 2012).

Historically, media have struggled to find ways to meet both of those requirements. For example, New York newspaper companies in the early 1900s used spaces outside of their buildings to attract crowds, providing evidence that they had the “ability to convene a public” (Wallace, 2012, p. 88). In the 1990s, the public journalism movement used town meetings and listening sessions to encourage citizens to become more active citizens (Charity, 1995).

Social media is the latest attempt to meet these diverse spatial requirements of democracy. While news organizations and newsmakers use social media to gain attention and influence, citizens use these platforms to reinterpret these messages and create meaning. All across the social-media stage citizens struggle to create meaning from the events of the day. It is emblematic of the traditional American idea of a public forum—a place where citizens...

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