Posted: September 6th, 2023
We live in a time of cancel culture
We live in a time of cancel culture, a ‘practice’ meant to censure people for their actions or loyalties, specifically, actions or loyalties that are perceived/believed to be immoral. After reading Tales from the Teenage Cancel Culture and Should We Cancel Aristotle, write an essay discusses the ethics of cancel culture. The essay should not simply be your opinion on the ethics of this practice; rather, your essay should be grounded within the context/framework of an ethical theory or philosopher(s). For example, how might a utilitarian, a virtue ethicist, or a deontologist think about cancel culture? While including your own views is appropriate, that should not be the main focus of your essay. In addition to references to both of the articles from The New York Times linked below, your essay must make reference to our text.
Tales from the Teenage Cancel Culture:
Should We Cancel Aristotle:
A heading done according to MLA
An original title
An introductory paragraph that contains your thesis
Body paragraphs that develop and support your thesis
A minimum of 3 full pages (your works cited page doesn’t count as a page)
Your essay should be double-spaced, in Times New Roman 12 point font; your paper should be written in Standard English and done in MLA format. You must include a MLA works cited page that includes all sources referenced in your essay.
The Ethics of Cancel Culture: A Philosophical Perspective
Cancel culture is a prevalent phenomenon in contemporary society, where individuals or groups are ostracized and boycotted for their actions, opinions, or associations, which are deemed offensive or harmful. While some people view cancel culture as a necessary tool to hold individuals accountable for their misconduct or promote social justice, others see it as a form of censorship and intolerance that undermines free speech and diversity of ideas. In this essay, I will explore the ethics of cancel culture from different philosophical perspectives, including utilitarianism, virtue ethics, and deontology, and argue that while cancel culture may have some ethical justifications, it often fails to promote genuine moral progress and can lead to unintended consequences.
From a utilitarian perspective, cancel culture can be justified if it promotes the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Utilitarianism is a consequentialist ethical theory that evaluates actions based on their consequences and aims to maximize happiness or pleasure and minimize suffering or pain. Thus, if canceling an individual or group results in preventing harm to others or promoting social welfare, it can be morally justifiable. For example, if a public figure makes racist or sexist remarks, and their cancellation leads to public outrage and promotes awareness of the harms of discrimination, it can be seen as a positive outcome. However, utilitarianism also requires considering the long-term effects and the unintended consequences of actions, which may not be apparent in the short term. Cancel culture can create a climate of fear and intolerance, where individuals are afraid to express their opinions or engage in constructive dialogue for fear of being canceled. This can lead to a lack of diversity of ideas and intellectual stagnation, which are detrimental to moral progress and social harmony.
From a virtue ethics perspective, cancel culture can be seen as a manifestation of the vices of intolerance and self-righteousness. Virtue ethics is an ethical theory that emphasizes the character traits that promote human flourishing, such as courage, compassion, and honesty. Cancel culture often involves attacking and demonizing individuals without seeking to understand their motives or circumstances, which can be seen as a lack of compassion and empathy. Moreover, cancel culture often assumes a moral high ground and a sense of infallibility, which can be seen as a form of self-righteousness. Virtue ethics also emphasizes the importance of virtues such as forgiveness, reconciliation, and dialogue in promoting moral progress and social harmony. Cancel culture often precludes these virtues, as it focuses on punishment and exclusion rather than dialogue and understanding.
From a deontological perspective, cancel culture can be seen as a violation of the principle of respect for persons. Deontology is an ethical theory that emphasizes the importance of following moral rules or duties, regardless of their consequences. Cancel culture often involves treating individuals as means to an end, rather than as ends in themselves, which violates the principle of respect for persons. Moreover, cancel culture often involves judging individuals based on their group identity or association, rather than their individual actions and intentions, which can be seen as a form of discrimination. Deontology also emphasizes the importance of freedom of speech and expression, which are essential for individual autonomy and moral agency. Cancel culture often undermines these freedoms, as it restricts the expression of unpopular or controversial views and promotes conformity and censorship.
In conclusion, cancel culture is a complex phenomenon that raises important ethical questions about the balance between accountability, justice, and tolerance. While cancel culture may have some ethical justifications, such as promoting social justice and preventing harm, it often fails to promote genuine moral progress and can lead to unintended consequences, such as intolerance, self-righteousness, and censorship. From different philosophical perspectives, cancel culture can be seen as violating principles of utilitarianism, virtue ethics, and deontology, which emphasize the importance of promoting human flourishing, compassion