Date of Completion
Honors College Thesis
College of Arts and Science Honors, Honors College
privacy, technology, instrumentarianism, surveillance capitalism, autonomy, consent
Surveillance capitalism and its tools of instrumentarianism require us to reconceive privacy as protection from undue external influences. The problem with exchanging privacy for accessing modern technological goods and services is that this exchange is incapable of producing meaningful consent. If an individual declines to consent, they are denied the means to realize their modern personhood and fulfill their autonomy—an unbearable harm. But if an individual accepts, then they’re entering an exploitative system of various harms where corporations sell access to their autonomy on a marketplace built around disrupting their autonomy—endangering their autonomy to potentially intolerable degrees. Choosing between these options doesn’t seem like much of a choice; this exchange doesn’t feel morally transformative. This is because such a technosocial contract can be best understood as a coercive offer, and consent cannot coexist with coercion. Furthermore, because surveillance capitalism and instrumentarian tools perpetuate discrimination and inequality, bolster corporate control over both the goods of modern life and democratic governments, hoard the tools we need to live virtuously and flourish as human beings under eudaimonic and technomoral virtue ethics, and now threaten human autonomy itself—then whatever technosocial contract enlisting us into such a system should at the very least prove justified.
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Wade, Seth, "ERROR 404 CONSENT NOT FOUND: The Problem with Exchanging Privacy for Accessing Modern Technological Goods & Services" (2021). UVM Honors College Senior Theses. 387.