This paper aims to retrieve relevant aspects of the work of idealist thinker T.H. Green to improve comprehension of, and policy responses to, various dilemmas facing contemporary “information societies”.
The paper is an exercise in interdisciplinary conceptual research, seeking a new synthesis that draws upon a range of ethical, metaphysical, empirical and policy texts and ideas. It is an application of moral and political principles to post-industrial problems, part of an ongoing international effort to develop viable normative approaches to the emergent information society. The background research included in situ study of archival papers.
Green’s version of idealism illuminates current, technologically induced shifts in our understandings of important categories such as self, substance and space. The paper finds that Green’s doctrine of the common good, his alternative to the (still prevalent) school of utilitarian welfarism, combined with his famously “positive” theory of the state, is highly relevant as a normative template for applied philosophy and policy. The article demonstrates its applicability to three vital contemporary issues: freedom of information, intellectual property and personal privacy. It concludes that Green’s work provides exceptional resources for an original, anti-technocratic, theory of the information society as good society.
It is hoped that, as part of the wider rediscovery of the work of Green and other idealists, the paper will have some impact on public policy.
The paper contains a new scholarly interpretation of Green’s theories of the common good and of the state. In addition, it is believed to be the first major attempt to apply idealism to the information society and its problems.
This work was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council [grant number AH/K002899/1]. The author is also grateful to Balliol College, Oxford, for access to the Green Papers.
Duff, A.S. (2015), "Cyber-Green: idealism in the information age", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 146-164. https://doi.org/10.1108/JICES-10-2014-0049Download as .RIS
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