Ethics and Information Technology 22 (3):269-279 (2020)

Michael-John Turp
University of Canterbury
How do social media affect interpersonal relationships? Adopting a Strawsonian framework, I argue that social media make us more likely to adopt the objective attitude towards persons. Technologically mediated communication tends to inhibit interpersonal emotions and other reactive attitudes. This is due to a relative lack of the social cues that typically enable us to read minds and react to them. Adopting the objective attitude can be harmful for two reasons. First, it tends to undermine the basis of interpersonal relationships. In particular, I argue that friendship is a relationship between persons that requires the participant stance. Second, it is a morally risky attitude that makes us more likely to treat persons in problematic, thing-like ways. Some philosophers have rightly urged that social media are compatible with virtuous, Aristotelian friendship. Notwithstanding, I argue that the harms associated with the objective attitude are more pressing than they might appear if we restrict our focus to relatively virtuous people with the social competence to flourish in morally risky online environments.
Keywords Social media  Friendship  Reactive attitudes  P. F. Strawson  Objectification  Virtue
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DOI 10.1007/s10676-020-09538-y
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The Emotional Construction of Morals.Jesse Prinz - 2009 - Analysis 69 (4):701-704.
Concepts and Cognitive Science.Stephen Laurence & Eric Margolis - 1999 - In Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence (eds.), Concepts: Core Readings. MIT Press. pp. 3-81.

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