Edited By Hua Wang
This volume illuminates the complexity of our modern era, exploring how society can leverage exciting new opportunities whilst recognizing the complex challenges we face in a time of constant change. It helps us understand how we have come to this point and where we may be going so that we may study the opportunities and the dangers, the chances and the risks, that digital media pose in our quest for some version of «the good life».
Chapter Two: The Good Life: Selfhood and Virtue Ethics in the Digital Age
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The Good Life
Selfhood and Virtue Ethics in the Digital Age
CHARLES M. ESSUNIVERSITY OF OSLO, NORWAY
“Perhaps it would not be a bad idea for the teams at present creating cybernetics to add to their cadre of technicians, who have come from all horizons of science, some serious anthropologists, and perhaps a philosopher who has some curiosity as to world matters.”
—PÈRE DUBARLE, CITED IN WIENER (1950/1954, P. 180)
I take the conference theme for this year’s ICA—Communication and “the good life”—as a high watermark of a growing interest in the field of communication research in overtly normative approaches. “The good life” is a core focus and hallmark concern of virtue ethics, so I begin this chapter with a brief introduction to virtue ethics. We will see that virtue ethics is well grounded in such ancient figures as Plato and Confucius, and re-emerges in both early and later modernity. I focus on these more recent appearances of virtue ethics—first, within the disciplines of Information and Computing Ethics (ICE) and then within Media and Communication Studies (MCS): In between, I review my own contributions along these lines as a “bridge worker” between these two domains. I argue that these appearances trace out a growing cross-disciplinary interest in appropriating virtue ethics as part of a larger pattern of projects in otherwise largely “value-free” or “value-neutral” disciplines that in fact aim to...
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