Original Paper

Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 201-207

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Why virtual friendship is no genuine friendship

  • Barbro FrödingAffiliated withDivision of Philosophy, Royal Institute of Technology KTH
  • , Martin PetersonAffiliated withSection for Philosophy and Ethics, Eindhoven University of Technology Email author 


Based on a modern reading of Aristotle’s theory of friendship, we argue that virtual friendship does not qualify as genuine friendship. By ‘virtual friendship’ we mean the type of friendship that exists on the internet, and seldom or never is combined with real life interaction. A ‘traditional friendship’ is, in contrast, the type of friendship that involves substantial real life interaction, and we claim that only this type can merit the label ‘genuine friendship’ and thus qualify as morally valuable. The upshot of our discussion is that virtual friendship is what Aristotle might have described as a lower and less valuable form of social exchange.


Virtual friendship Aristotle Virtue ethics Facebook