This paper argues that the surveillance society risks undermining the ability of its citizens to develop virtue for the same sorts of reasons that overprotective parenting can impair the character development of children. Accordingly, to the extent that we think virtue development among citizens is important, we have reason to resist the transformation of the networked society into the surveillance society. I begin with a review of the psychological evidence linking overprotective parenting of a certain sort to impaired character development in children, before offering an explanation of this link: the overprotection carries with it an overt, disaffective excess of surveillance that tends to vitiate a plausible condition on the development of character virtue derived from Aristotle. I then point out that since the networked monitoring systems that pervade the surveillance society carry with them a similar kind of surveillance, we have reason to believe that citizens of the surveillance society will – like the overprotected children – face heightened difficulties in satisfying that condition.
|Keywords:||Virtue, Character, Surveillance Society, Networked Society, Overprotection, Aristotle|
Department of Philosophy, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada
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