Human Flourishing and Technology Affordances

Philosophy and Technology 37 (1):1-28 (2023)
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Amid the growing interest in the relationship between technology and human flourishing, philosophical perfectionism can serve as a fruitful lens through which to normatively evaluate technology. This paper offers an analytic framework that explains the relationship between technology and flourishing by way of innate human capacities. According to perfectionism, our human flourishing is determined by how well we exercise our human capacities to know, create, be sociable, use our bodies and exercise the will, by engaging in activities that ultimately produce valuable output. The paper introduces technology affordances to this framework, to show how affordances enable or restrict the exercise of human capacities, thereby impacting levels of human flourishing. One implication of this analysis is that it highlights how technology affordances can cause the privation (absence) of flourishing, by impoverishing capacities. The upshot is that privation may bring about robustly bad unflourishing, especially given that technology and its affordances have the power to degrade the human capacities in the long run. By linking how human capacities are shaped by affordances, we can achieve a better understanding of the ethical implications of technology on human flourishing.



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Author's Profile

Avigail Ferdman
Technion, Israel Institute of Technology

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