Episode #43 - Elder on Friendship, Robots and Social Media


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In this episode I talk to Alexis Elder. Alexis is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Her research focuses on ethics, emerging technologies, social philosophy, metaphysics (especially social ontology), and philosophy of mind. She draws on ancient philosophy - primarily Chinese and Greek - in order to think about current problems. She is the author of a number of articles on the philosophy of friendship, and her book Friendship, Robots, and Social Media: False Friends and Second Selves, came out in January 2018. We talk about all things to do with friendship, social media and social robots.
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Show Notes

  • 0:00 - Introduction
  • 1:37 - Aristotle's theory of friendship
  • 5:00 - The idea of virtue/character friendship
  • 10:14 - The enduring appeal of Aristotle's account of friendship
  • 12: 30 - Does social media corrode friendship?
  • 16:35 - The Publicity Objection to online friendships
  • 20:40 - The Superficiality Objection to online friendships
  • 25:23 - The Commercialisation/Contamination Objection to online friendships
  • 30:34 - Deception in online friendships
  • 35:18 - Must we physically interact with our friends?
  • 39:25 - Social robots as friends (with a specific focus on elderly populations and those on the autism spectrum)
  • 46:50 - Can you be friends with a robot? The counterfeit currency analogy
  • 50:55 - Does the analogy hold up?
  • 56:13 - Why are robotic friends assumed to be fake?
  • 1:03:50 - Does the 'falseness' of robotic friends depend on the type of friendship we are interested in?
  • 1:06:38 - What about companion animals?
  • 1:08:35 - Where is this debate going?

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