As noted above, Shannon Vallor has carefully developed a set of “Technomoral virtues” that she argues are central to good lives of flourishing in an era deeply shaped by rapidly evolving technologies. These are: honesty, self-control, humility, justice, courage, empathy, care, civility, flexibility, perspective, magnanimity, and technomoral wisdom – the last of which incorporates phronēsis.
One of Vallor’s primary explorations and applications of these virtues takes up care and the practices (virtues must always be practiced) of care-giving. The specific example is of caring for elderly parents vis-à- vis “offloading” the chores and obligations of such caring to carebots. Caring further requires the virtue of courage:
Caring requires courage because care will likely bring precisely those pains and losses the carer fears most – grief, longing, anger, exhaustion. But when these pains are incorporated into lives sustained by loving and reciprocal relations of selfless service and empathic concern, our character is open to being shaped not only by fear and anxiety, but also by gratitude, love, hope, trust, humor, compassion, and mercy.
Lastly, caring and courage are required for confronting our existential situation with open eyes:
Caring practices also foster fuller and more honest moral perspectives on the meaning and value of life itself, perspectives that acknowledge the finitude and fragility of our existence rather than hide it.
That is, for Vallor, the large project of developing such virtues is driven not only by their particular fit and usefulness in a technology-driven world: still more fundamentally, she invokes the philosopher José Ortega y Gassett, who foregrounds the central existentialist project of acknowledging our mortality as an essential step toward discerning and creating meaning in our lives. Ortega y Gassett is particularly fitting here as he foregrounds the role of technology in the “project” of becoming ourselves: “the mission of technology consists in releasing man [sic] for the task of being himself. This understanding of technology as emancipatory – as freeing us to become more fully our best selves – is a theme announced by Norbert Wiener at the beginning of information and computing ethics. At the same time, Vallor thus stands among a growing number of contemporary scholars and researchers who are rediscovering and/or applying existentialist philosophy in new ways, precisely with a focus on digital media
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