Workshop: Laura Kane, “Theorizing Moral Communities on the Internet: Twitter and the Value of Accountability Practices”

Our first paper workshop will feature work by Laura W. Kane (The University of Tampa).

Date: Friday, February 22, 2019, 3:30pm

Location: The Independent

Paper Title: “Theorizing Moral Communities on the Internet: Twitter and the Value of Accountability Practices”

Abstract: In this paper, I examine what happens when we hold members of the Twitter community accountable for offensive Tweets. Specifically, I question how members of the Twitter community justify a standing to intervene in the behavior of another Twitter member, especially when intervention involves the imposition of sanctions outside of the Twitter community (i.e. the loss of one’s job). I argue that Margaret Gilbert’s account of joint commitment provides a strong framework for understanding what it means to be a member of the Twitter community and supports the notion that the value of accountability practices lies in their ability to prevent the disintegration of the Twitter community. I then argue that the notion of a joint commitment (and the standing that it provides to jointly committed members) is importantly similar to Stephen Darwall’s notion of the second-personal standpoint and to Marina Oshana’s understanding of the intersocial dimension of the moral community, and contend that the strength of accountability practices is determined in large part by the strength of a collective practices that establish moral norms and guidelines for appropriate behavior. More importantly, these accounts characterize the aim of accountability practices as restorative: they treat violators as members of the moral community who are (at least minimally) aware of moral norms and, in rebuking or imposing sanctions on violators, aim to restore violators to their initial standing in the moral community through appropriate feelings of guilt. As such, the value of accountability practices resides in their ability to restore individual members to good moral standing and, consequently, to preserve the community as a whole through such collective practices. Because of this, I conclude that the imposition of sanctions aimed at the offline lives of Twitter members fails to abide by this restorative aim and hence, cannot be justified.

If you would like to attend this workshop and receive a copy of the paper in advance, please email

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