Disengagement in the Digital Age: A Virtue Ethical Approach to Epistemic Sorting on Social Media

Kirsten J. Worden 1
  • 1 Independent Scholar (formerly of Texas A&M University), Washington, USA
Kirsten J. Worden

Abstract

Using the Aristotelian virtue of friendship and concept of practical wisdom, this paper argues that engaging in political discourse with friends on social media is conducive to the pursuit of the good life because it facilitates the acquisition of the socio-political information and understanding necessary to live well. Previous work on social media, the virtues, and friendship focuses on the initiation and maintenance of the highest form of friendship (Aristotle’s ‘ideal friendship’) online. I argue that the information necessary to live well can come from non-ideal, civic friends in addition to ideal friends. In order to acquire this information successfully via social media, users should practice inclusive engagement, self-control, discretion, and audience-sensitivity in their cyber interactions. This argument is salient given the current concerns about ‘echo chambers’ or ‘filter bubbles’, in which users ignore or block out friends and news sources that support political perspectives different from one’s own.

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Moral Philosophy and Politics is an international, peer-reviewed journal for original philosophical articles on issues of public relevance. Of particular interest to the journal are the philosophical assessment of policy and its normative basis, analyses of the philosophical underpinnings or implications of political debate and reflection on the justice or injustice of the social and political structures which regulate human action.

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