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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton 2018

22. No Greater Than Who I Actually Am: Virtue Ethics in Digital Life Narratives

From the book Communication and Media Ethics

  • Michael Humphrey


The events, thoughts and actions we create in digital space form identities in two distinct ways. The purposeful communication of life events is a rough analog to traditional life writing, but the introduction of algorithms creates a new complication. Whether there has been an ethic of autobiography in the past is a debate of its own, but now we have entered a phase of human life which prompts fresh questions: How is a digital life narrative formed in a just way? What are the limits of agentive identity creation, both for the self and the software? G.E.M. Anscombe (1958) provides a useful lens onto these questions, by suggesting the modern moral perspective should guide us toward “flourishing.” In this paper, I argue that individual storytellers (anyone who is presenting the semblance of an authentic self on a digital platform to be consumed by other users), by the nature of the “publicness” of their act are subjecting themselves to a new kind of life identity ethical scrutiny.

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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