Technology and Parental Responsibility: The Case of the V-Chip [Book Review]

Science and Engineering Ethics 18 (2):285-300 (2012)

In this paper, the so-called V-chip is analysed from the perspective of responsibility. The V-chip is a technological tool used by parents, on a voluntary basis, to prevent children from watching violent television content. Since 1997 in the United States, the V-chip is installed in all new televisions sets of 12″ and larger. We are interested in the question whether and how the introduction of the V-chip affects who is to be considered responsible for children. In the debate, it has been argued that the V-chip reduces parents’ responsibility for children, but it has also been argued that it gives parents a tool to exercise their responsibility. It may appear as though all debaters are discussing the same thing and merely have different opinions. However, we argue that there are at least three notions of responsibility underlying these claims and that these should be kept separate. First, arguments on responsibility may refer to responsibility as task distribution. Second, they can refer to responsibility as control. Finally, a thicker concept of parental responsibility understood as a virtue may be referred to. It becomes clear that whereas task distribution changes to some extent and the possibilities for control are increased, only certain parts of parental responsibility as a virtue are affected. The finding that there appear to be different notions of responsibility involved in a debate that prima facie is about one issue, indicates that discussions on other technologies and how they affect responsibility may suffer from the same conceptual lack of clarity
Keywords Moral responsibility  Technology  V-chip  Parental responsibility  Children  TV violence
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DOI 10.1007/s11948-010-9222-6
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Morals From Motives.Michael Slote - 2001 - Oxford University Press.
The Ethics of Care. Personal, Political, and Global.Virginia Held - 2007 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 69 (2):399-399.
The Ethics of Care: Personal, Political, and Global.Mary Mahowald - 2009 - International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics 2 (1):177-181.

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