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  • What Makes Something Good?

    Posted on February 28th, 2012 lisskane 1 comment

    I am going to be completely honest in that I have had a super crazy week and didn’t have a chance to absorb these week’s readings as closely as I would have liked. But as I was skimming over “The Media is the Message” by McLuhan, in between studying for my chemistry test, sorority initiation and preparing for my alternative spring break trip in Nicaragua, what caught my eye was the comparison of modern science to apple pie and small pox. When first reading the quote from General David Sarnoff

    “We are too prone to make technological instruments the scapegoats for the sins of those who wield them. The products of modern science are not in themselves good or bad; it is the way they are used that determines their value.”

    I completely agreed with this statement. Computers and technology aren’t intrinsically good or bad. It is how we use them and what we use them for that should determine their value and virtue. If we use them for progressing research or knowledge, they are good. But if they are used for hacking or stalking, they are bad. But then as I read the next couple of sentences I changed my mind.

    Can apple pie not be named good or bad, except in the context of its use? As a major foodie and owner of the biggest sweet tooth possible, I disagree. Then continued with smallpox virus. Is that not good or bad? Does it really just depend on how it is used? I sure can’t think of a whole lot of ways it could be good. But then again, what about firearms? Couldn’t they be bad or good? Depending on their use? I think they could.

    I also found myself drawing a comparison to philosophy Morality and Justice lecture today. We have been talking about virtues. What makes virtue virtuous? Is it that is is seen as good? What makes something good? Also, how does a person become virtuous? Does trying to be courageous give you courage as a virtue. To what degree must you have courage to be virtuous? We talked about that people are born with the the ability to be virtuous, but they are not automatically virtuous. Thus, being virtuous is not for or against nature. It is not unnatural to be virtuous, but it is not immediate. I think of this similarly with computers. They have the ability to do good, but they are not necessarily good. The same goes with technology being bad.

    Ultimately, I am not sure which side I completely agree with. I keep flip flopping around, but I think it must depend more on what kind of object we are talking about. Personally, I think I do believe in the computer’s case, it does depend. I am going to stop rambling now as I am afraid I’m too tired and not making sense, but needless to say this piece has caught my interest/sparked some thinking and I am excited to look into it in more detail in class!