9th Annual Conference: Virtues in the Digital World

Virtues in the Digital World

10th – 12th September 2021, Oriel College, Oxford

The ninth annual conference of the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, University of Birmingham

The idea of virtue has been prominent in intellectual thought for over 2,000 years, but will this prominence persist into the future? Given an era of unprecedented technological change, what will be the role of virtue for the remainder of this century and beyond? These are pressing questions, given that we do not know where robotics, artificial intelligence, the ‘Internet of Things’, bioengineered humans and the many other technological innovations on the horizon will take us. Academic interest in the relationship between emerging technologies and character and virtues had a slow start. This situation is now changing as philosophers, psychologists, sociologists and educationists are increasingly calling for a focus on virtue to counter some of the more pressing ethical challenges that emerging technologies are presenting for individuals and societies.

The main aim of this conference was to explore what will be the role of virtue in the future. Among the big questions that emerged were: What are the characteristic virtues and vices of digital natives? Have social media altered friendships and human relationships more broadly? Are populism and demagoguery ineluctable facets of the digital age? What is the link between practical wisdom and artificial intelligence? Are digital technologies dehumanising society? Should we allow technology to take over moral decision-making and might this lead to a state of technological paternalism? How likely is it that a shared understanding of virtues will persist in future societies? How do we ensure that future technologies are designed to promote and enhance virtue? And, given these pressing questions, what is the role of educators to ensure that the ideals of good character and human flourishing are kept alive in the future?

The 2021 Jubilee Centre annual conference brought together experts from a range of disciplines to explore those questions and many more.

The Conference Programme is accessible by clicking the image below:

Abstracts and papers presented at the conference can be found here.

Download the Virtues in the Digital World Programme