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Digital Civics: the study of the rights and responsibilities of citizens who inhabit the infosphere and access the world digitally.

A Brief Introduction to Digital Civics

FOUNDATIONAL PILLARS

Digital Civics is supported by a foundation of four chief underlying pillars: Philosophy, History, Ethics, and Civics.

Philosophy: acknowledges the philosophy of information

History: appreciates the historical traditions from which we draw

Ethics: explores virtue ethics appreciating the Platonic philosophical influences on the modern world

Civics: Aligns itself with human rights policy & draws from a conjoined individual and relational selfhood, known as ‘hybrid selves’

KEY CONCEPTS

Digital Civics is grounded in a number of key concepts:

It acknowledges the transformations in human life and our world brought about by new scientific breakthroughs and technological developments, and the impact these changes have on how we behave.

It recognises the importance of responding to these changes in ethical and intellectually rigorous ways.

And it appreciates that we have a long historical tradition from which to draw when addressing these challenges.

Fundamental to Digital Civics is an appreciation of the informational nature of reality.

Digital civics acknowledges the global, intercultural phenomenon brought about by digital technologies and encourages the formulation of civic mechanisms to respond through the use of participatory practices and civic virtues. In this way, digital civics acknowledges the digital’s ubiquitous interrelationship with humanity, prompting the inclusion of the digital in citizenship education, and grounds itself in a longstanding tradition of civics and civic education that continues to develop in emerging areas of digital ethics.

Digital civics is defined as the study of the rights and responsibilities of citizens who inhabit the infosphere and access the world digitally.

This definition incorporates:

 (i) an understanding of the environment within which civic actions take place,

 (ii) the information philosophy that underpins this environment, and

 (iii) the policy discourse that addresses the basic rights and ethical responsibilities of citizens.

(i) 

The environment articulated in this definition, the infosphere, is underpinned by Luciano Floridi’s Philosophy of Information (a field that considers the use of computers and the philosophical issues that arise from them). The infosphere encompasses both online and offline experiences, and their interrelationship, representing the complete environment in which citizens live.

(ii) 

The Philosophy of Information also considers the implications of information technologies on our daily lives: how these technologies change the way we understand ourselves as humans, and, as a result, how our own human behaviour changes, including our ethical behaviours.

(iii)

Digital civics also incorporates an understanding of human rights within a digital age environment, and a level of self-awareness in regards to the ethical behaviours enacted in this environment, including an appreciation of duties, obligations, and rights as a citizen. It aligns itself with the International Bill of Human Rights, and also the European Convention on Human Rights. In specifying ‘responsibilities’ this definition makes particular reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, resolution 217 A (III), Article 29, which recognizes “duties to the community” and “respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society” (UN 217A (III) 29, 1948).

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