Real character-friends: Aristotelian friendship, living together, and technology

Ethics and Information Technology 14 (3):221-230 (2012)
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Aristotle’s account of friendship has largely withstood the test of time. Yet there are overlooked elements of his account that, when challenged by apparent threats of current and emerging communication technologies, reveal his account to be remarkably prescient. I evaluate the danger that technological advances in communication pose to the future of friendship by examining and defending Aristotle’s claim that perfect or character-friends must live together. I concede that technologically-mediated communication can aid existing character-friendships, but I argue that character-friendships cannot be created and sustained entirely through technological meditation. I examine text-based technologies, such as Facebook and email, and engage a non-text based technology that poses the greatest threat to my thesis—Skype. I then address philosophical literature on friendship and technology that has emerged in the last decade in Ethics and Information Technology to elucidate and defend my account by contrast. I engage Cocking and Matthews (2000), who argue that friendship cannot be created and sustained entirely through text-based contact, Briggle (2008), who argues that friendship can be created and sustained entirely through text-based contact, and Munn (2012), who argues that friendship cannot be created and entirely sustained through text-based contact but can be created and sustained entirely in immersive virtual worlds. My account discusses a certain kind of friendship, character-friendship, and a certain kind of technology, Skype, that these accounts do not. Examination of these essays helps to demonstrate that character friendship cannot be sustained entirely by technologically-aided communication and that character-friends must live together



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Michael McFall
Syracuse University (PhD)

Citations of this work

The Philosophical Case for Robot Friendship.John Danaher - forthcoming - Journal of Posthuman Studies.
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Collegiality, Friendship, and the Value of Remote Work.Philip Maxwell Thingbø Mlonyeni - 2023 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 26 (1):113-126.

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References found in this work

Nicomachean ethics. Aristotle - 1999 - New York: Clarendon Press. Edited by Michael Pakaluk. Translated by Michael Pakaluk.
Nicomachean Ethics.Martin Aristotle & Ostwald - 1911 - New York: Hackett Publishing Company. Edited by C. C. W. Taylor.
Friendship and the self.Dean Cocking & Jeanette Kennett - 1998 - Ethics 108 (3):502-527.
The Eudemian Ethics.A. Kenny (ed.) - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
Aristotle on the Forms of Friendship.John M. Cooper - 1977 - Review of Metaphysics 30 (4):619 - 648.

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