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Cyber-Green: idealism in the information age

Duff, Alistair S.


Alistair S. Duff


This paper retrieves relevant aspects of the work of idealist thinker T.H. Green in order 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.

Practical implications
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

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 10, 2015
Publication Date May 11, 2015
Deposit Date Mar 31, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jun 25, 2018
Journal Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society
Print ISSN 1477-996X
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 2
Pages 146-164
Keywords T.H. Green; information society; conceptual research; common good; freedom of information; intellectual property; personal privacy;
Public URL
Contract Date Jun 25, 2018


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