“[A] valuable contribution to the field. . . . [T]he authors’ willingness to update Aristotle’s virtues with various theorists addresses some of the gaps in the Aristotelian framework. This book’s approach to ethics is unique and necessary.”
—James Brown, Rutgers University
“Through a series of finely told case studies, the authors present a fascinating and compelling notion of emergent normative ethics to help navigate our digitally mediated world. Anyone interested in the intersection of digital rhetoric, ethics, and online culture should read this book.”
—John Gallagher, University of Illinois
Rhetoric, Technology, and the Virtues offers a framework for theorizing ethics in digital and networked media. While the field of rhetoric and writing studies has traditionally given attention to Plato’s Gorgias and Phaedrus dialogues, this volume updates Aristotle’s basic framework of hexis for the digital age. According to Aristotle, “When men change their hexeis—their dispositions, habits, comportments, and so on, in relation to an activity—they change their thought.”
Rhetoric, Technology, and the Virtues argues that virtue ethics supports postmodern criticisms of rational autonomy and universalism while also enabling a discussion of the actual ethical behaviors that digital users form through their particular communicative ends and various rhetorical purposes. Authors Jared Colton and Steve Holmes extend Aristotle’s hexis framework through contemporary virtue ethicists and political theorists whose writing works from a tacit virtue ethics framework. They examine these key theorists through a range of case studies of digital habits of human users, including closed captioning, trolling, sampling, remixing, gamifying for environmental causes, and using social media, alongside a consideration of the ethical habits of nonhuman actors.
Tackling a needed topic with clarity and defined organization, Rhetoric, Technology, and the Virtues carefully synthesizes various strands of ethical thinking, convincingly argues that virtue ethics is a viable framework for digital rhetoric, and provides a practical way to assess the changing hexeis encountered across the network of ethical situations in the digital world.