Moral Philosophy and the Case Against Twitter by James Anderson

Here is a great post from James Anderson's blog. Whilst you'll enjoy it most if you have some familiarity with moral philosophy I think that a lack of familiarity should not stop one enjoying the feast.

Against All Tweets
24 June 2009 by James

Semi-Serious Warm-Up Argument
(1) Twittering requires communication in 140 characters or less.
(2) Almost nothing of substance can be adequately communicated in 140 characters or less.
(3) Therefore, almost nothing of substance can be adequately communicated by Twittering.
(4) A method of communication is intrinsically flawed if almost nothing of substance can be adequately communicated by it.
(5) Therefore, Twittering is an intrinsically flawed method of communication.
(6) One ought not to act in such a way as to participate in, promote, or legitimize an intrinsically flawed method of communication.
(7) Therefore, one ought not to Twitter.

Virtue Ethics Argument
(1) One ought always to act in good faith.
(2) Therefore, if one Twitters, one ought always to Twitter in good faith.
(3) One can Twitter in good faith only if one believes one’s life to be so important as to merit the attention of others.
(4) It is narcissistic to believe one’s life to be so important as to merit the attention of others.
(5) Therefore, one can Twitter in good faith only if one is narcissistic.
(6) Narcissism is not a virtue.
(7) Therefore, one can Twitter only if one is unvirtuous.
(8) Therefore, one ought not to Twitter.

Aristotelian Argument
(1) One ought to aim for the Golden Mean between two extremes.
(2) Twittering all the time is one extreme.
(3) Not using the Internet at all is another extreme.
(4) Using the Internet without Twittering is the Golden Mean between those two extremes.
(5) Therefore, one ought to use the Internet without Twittering.

Augustinian Argument
(1) Evil is essentially the lack of goodness.
(2) It is good to be able to use more than 140 characters to communicate.
(3) Twitter prevents one from using more than 140 characters to communicate.
(4) Therefore, Twitter lacks goodness.
(5) Therefore, Twitter is evil.

Leibnizian Argument
(1) This is the best of all possible worlds.
(2) All else being equal, a world in which Twittering is morally impermissible is better than a world in which Twittering is morally permissible, for numerous reasons that are too obvious to spell out here.
(3) Therefore, this is a world in which Twittering is morally impermissible.
(4) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Plantingan Modal Argument
(1) It is at least possible that all moral truths are necessary truths.
(2) It is at least possible that Twittering is wrong.
(3) Therefore, it is possible that, necessarily, Twittering is wrong.
(4) According to modal system S5, what is possibly necessary is necessary.
(5) Therefore, necessarily, Twittering is wrong.
(6) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Kantian Argument
(1) Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.
(2) I can will that it should become a universal law that no one Twitters; indeed, I can do so with ease and without the slightest whiff of self-contradiction.
(3) Therefore, no one should Twitter.

Utilitarian Argument
(1) It is wrong to act in such a way as to reduce the overall net happiness of the human race.
(2) Twittering not only keeps people from countless other activities that might actually increase the overall net happiness of the human race, it also makes people more aware than they otherwise would be of just how banal other people’s lives are.
(3) Therefore, Twittering reduces the overall net happiness of the human race.
(4) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Natural Law Argument
(1) It is wrong to do what is not natural.
(2) There is nothing remotely natural about broadcasting the minutiae of your life to all and sundry whenever it takes your fancy.
(3) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Emotivist Argument
(1) I strongly dislike the idea of Twittering and I strongly dislike hearing about Twittering.
(2) Therefore, you should stop Twittering and stop talking about Twittering.

Alternative Emotivist Argument
(1) Boo to Twittering!
(2) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Prescriptivist Argument
(1) Don’t Twitter!
(2) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Intuitionist Argument
(1) I just know that Twittering is wrong.
(2) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Subjectivist Argument
(1) Twittering is wrong for me.
(2) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Cultural Relativist Argument
(1) I believe Twittering is wrong and the people I hang out with agree with me.
(2) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Rortian Argument
(1) Truth is whatever your peers will let you get away with saying.
(2) My peers will let me get away with saying that Twittering is wrong.
(3) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Divine Command Theorist Argument
(1) “Thou shalt not Twitter.”
(2) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Pop Christianity Argument
(1) Would Jesus Twitter? Probably not.
(2) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

Inductive Argument
(1) As demonstrated above, according to (nearly) all known moral theories, Twittering is wrong.
(2) Therefore, Twittering is (probably) wrong.

Postscript
I have every confidence that these arguments are no less cogent than those I raised against blogging ten years ago.

Comments

David said…
I am stunned by the audacity of the anti-twittering project, nonplussed by some of the logic, and confident that Twittering will persist for some time, attracting Tweachers and Twitnesses.
EllenM said…
Politically Correct Argument:

(1) Somebody somewhere said something about Twittering is wrong.
(2) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.
matthew said…
Paternal Authoritarian Argument:
1) You must obey what I say else your ears shall be boxed.
2) I said not to twitter.
3) Therefore twittering is wrong.
Robin Parry said…
David

I fear that you may have missed the point. The post is only intended as a joke and not as a serious objection to twitter.

Twitter may be a bit naff but it is not wrong and it will certainly persist.

Nevertheless - it is fun to have a little fun at its expense as it has no feelings.

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